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Bodo Mrozek

Listen to the history in the time of vinyl. Vinyl records as sources for the history of the media

Le Temps des médias n°22, Printemps 2014, p. 92-106.


After 1945, the most important media for the recording of music was the vinyl record. Through the vinyl record music became a product which could be sold piece by piece – a fact that changed this product significantly. Musical performances were not the only source of music anymore – instead they often served as a promotion for the record sale. Records were not only important for aesthetics, but also media for politics. They caused debates, bans, boycotts, and often cases of censorship. Records also shaped new cults and practices of listening, new (written) media, new markets and even were even used as “social capital” for group distinction and they stimulated intellectual debates. Although records had in many cases an overtly wider circulation than books and could be used by larger groups (by illiterate audiences for example), records are still not used very often in historiography. Despite the fact, that they contain more information than written texts (such as phonetics and intonation in the case of spoken word recordings for example), most historians still quote written texts, only. Although there are meanwhile national record collections, historians are not used in using them. The article discusses advantages and problems of records for contemporary historiography and names the main collections. It brings together approaches from the multidisciplinary sound studies and those of contemporary cultural history. By pleading for the usage of records as historical sources for sound, but also for visual history and as a source of texts the article advice how to find them and how to use them as typical sources of an epoch of media history that can be described as the age of vinyl.

To quote this article : http://www.histoiredesmedias.com/Listen-to-the-history-in-the-time.html

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