EMS Proceedings and Other Publications

Hugh Davies’s Electronic Music Documentation 1961–8

James Mooney

James Mooney, School of Music, University of Leeds, UK


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In this paper I provide an account Hugh Davies’s electronic music research and documentation in the 1960s. In particular, I focus upon Davies’s International Electronic Music Catalog – a 330 page volume published in 1968 in which Davies attempted to list every single piece of electronic music ever created – and several of his published and unpublished writings prior to this. I suggest is that, with the Catalog, Davies presented electronic music, for the first time, as an apparently coherent, international, interdisciplinary praxis, whereas in the preceding literature the full extent of the international, interdisciplinary scope had only been represented at best partially, if at all. I illustrate this, first of all, by describing some of the earlier literature that was available in the late 1950s and early 60s – the body of literature that Davies himself consulted in the course of his research, in other words – and then comparing this to how Davies’s own research developed during that period, culminating in the publication of the Catalog. I also describe, with reference to Davies’s own writings prior to the Catalog, what his motivation was for representing electronic music in that way, which had to do with his belief in international and interdisciplinary exchange as mediators of musical innovation. The Catalog remains the only single published source to have attempted to provide a comprehensive global overview of all electronic music activity up to the end of 1967, and many subsequent publications reference it. I conclude by suggesting that further research is needed in order to evaluate the historiographic implications of this.

EMS14 Proceedings