Author: Broesche, Garreth P
Title: The Intimacy of Distance: Glenn Gould and the Poetics of the Recording Studio
Institution: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Begun: November 2011
Completed: March 2015
Traditional music theory treats musical texts as autonomous works that exist apart from cultural context and are meaningful through their structure alone. The music and the score are virtually synonymous and the sound of music is constructed mentally through one’s internal audition (such an ability is part and parcel of Heinrich Schenker’s notion of “structural hearing”). Yet listeners do not typically read scores like novels, experiencing the work through the mental translation of marks on a page. More often, we experience music phenomenally, through recordings (listening to recordings requires its own competences, which Jonathan Sterne has named “audile technique”).
The majority of this dissertation is occupied with an investigation into how musical scores were translated into sound in recording studios of the twentieth century, specifically by pianist Glenn Gould. I employ a range of sources and approaches—including archival research into Gould’s studio process; critical listening to his studio products; and the work of sound scholars, philosophers, film theorists, and music analysts—in order to uncover the ways in which the recording studio facilitates intimate communication with audiences. I argue that there is a dialectical maneuver—I call it the dialectic of mediation—at the heart of twentieth-century musical production. The poison has become the cure as that which is seen to have estranged music from its natural, intimate, and communicative state—technological mediation—has become the same means by which the recovery of such intimate communication is attempted.
Emerging from this investigation towards the end of this dissertation, I will argue that the ultimate goal of recording, perhaps surprisingly, is in many respects similar to the goal of music theory: in both cases, the aim it to apply technologies so effectively that the technologies effectively vanish. Technology (recording technology in the case of Gould, various technologies of analysis in the case of music theory) becomes a means to achieve intimacy with an ideal representation of the musical work. I hope to illustrate that two seemingly disparate modes of listening—music theory’s internal audition and the phenomenal sound of recorded music—may not be as different as they seem.
Keywords: music and technology, recording technology, aura, liveness, Glenn Gould, audile technique, dialectic of mediation, montage technique, digital curation
Introduction. A Technologically-Accessed Beyond 1
Chapter 1. The Domestication of Sound 36
Section 1. Ideologies of Liveness 41
Section 2. Per/form/ance 80
Chapter 2. Reading Glenn Gould 105
Section 1. The Intimacy of Distance 108
Section 2. The Montage of Interpretations 131
Chapter 3. Glenn Gould in the Studio 178
Section 1. Gould at Eaton Auditorium 181
Section 2. Gould’s Recording of a Brahms Ballade 203
Conclusion. Curation, Audile Technique, and Music Theory 258
Works Cited 304