Recorded Music

by Pessimists Archive

In the early 1900s, recorded music was accused of muddling our minds, destroying art, and even harming babies. What was everyone so afraid of? In this episode, we dig into the early days of music and see what the hysterics properly predicted—and what they never saw coming.


• “The Menace of Mechanical Music”, John Philip Sousa’s famous essay

“Sousa Marches In Radio Parade”, Sousa’s piece about embracing radio

Phonograph Instant Success, Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette 1931

• Murder of Music Laid to Machines, The New York Times 1933

“Sing, Smile, Slumber”, the cylinder audio heard at the beginning of the show

A skeptical Bishop Vincent demanding a test of Edison’s phonograph

Scope of Modern Music In Its Various Forms And Its Practical Tendencies”, 1916

GOld Time Radio, Jim Ramsburg’s radio history site

“Hearing a new music education story: From Sousa to Gould to Madlib, with Joyce and Powers in the mix”, by Matthew Thibeault

Frances Carroll & Her Coquettes, the video featuring Viola Smith at the center of our bonus episode

Video of James Petrillo playing with Harry Truman

“Say Something Sweet To Your Sweetheart” by Jo Stafford and Gordon MacRae

“Have We Lost 41% Of our Musicians?”, Ars Technica

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