english abstract (2000)*

Burkhard Stangl

Abstract


Ethnologie im Ohr
was written as a contribution to the media history of anthropology and musicology. In 1877 T. A. Edison invented the phonograph. This introduced the feasibility to store and save acoustic manifestations of any kind – in contrast to literal and musical notations which are considered symbolic descriptions of acoustic events. From very early on explorers and anthropologists were equipped with Edison’s cylinder wheels to record languages and music outside the western culture. In 1899 the Austrian Phonogrammarchiv was founded as the first scientific sound archive of the world. Aside of the enormous and revolutionary impact of the gramophone, record player, radio etc. on social life, this book tries to examine the effect of recorded sound, specifically the effect on anthropological and musicological research at the turn of the nineteenth century, with a special emphasis on the Viennese development.
In the latter part of the twentieth century, duplicated and mimeographed sound documents on different media formats have become part of our daily life. However, the amount of “lost documents” from the previous centuries is almost incomprehensible. “What is not written down – means nothing. What is written down is dead”, as Paul ValĂ©ry once wrote. Part I examines this platform of different ideas evoked by ValĂ©ry-memory, oral tradition, storing and noting down non-written stories, and the theoretical concept of recording cultures without documented transcriptions. Part II examines the backgrounds of the formation of the Viennese Phonograph archives as well as their impact on scientific findingsfrom the first explorations with the Edison phonograph. Part III finally tries to show the reasons why Rudolf Pöch’s ethnographical work and specifically his collection ofethnographical sound documents didn’t receive the evaluation it shouldhave been entitled to. Among other things, this illustrates the interdependencies between the ideology of National Socialism and science.

(translation by Gisburg)

[Burkhard Stangl: Ethnologie im Ohr. Die Wirkungsgeschichte des Phonographen. Wien: WUV Wiener Universitätsverlag 2000]