Science Museum Research Centre

Alternative Histories of Electronic Music

Science Museum Research Centre 165 Queen's Gate , , London , SW7 5HD, UK



I’ll be presenting a paper on music at any cost and the use of technology to chase sublime musical experiences. Here, I’m focusing on composers, audiophiles and other listeners who have gone to extreme lengths with technology and their own bodies to chase intense, rewarding sonic experiences. I’ll be drawing parallels between technological innovations in the electronic age with those of previous centuries.

This paper will be presented in the Friday afternoon session of Alternative Histories of Electronic Music (AHEM), a three-day, international conference at the Science Museum Research Centre.  Other invited speakers to AHEM include Georgina Born, Simon Emmerson, Leigh Landy and Trevor Pinch. AHEM is being staged as part of an AHRC-funded project exploring the work of the English musician and musicologist Hugh Davies (1943-2005). The project is led by Dr James Mooney (University of Leeds) in partnership with Dr Tim Boon (Science Museum). Further information on Hugh Davies can be found on the project website.

In the late 1960s, Davies produced a comprehensive inventory of electronic music compositions, entitled International Electronic Music Catalog (1968), in which he documented the output of 560 studios in 39 countries. This challenged the hegemony of the Paris, Cologne, and New York schools, whose activities dominated the literature of the 1950s and 60s. As such, Davies provided what was perhaps the first alternative version of electronic music’s history.