Music, Radio, and Space During the Interbellum Years, 2013

Authors: Morten Michelsen
Type: Presentation
Year: 2013

Abstract: Between the two World Wars radio landed like an UFO in the midst of cultures more or less nationally defined all over the world. It fundamentally changed cultural and political communication as well as the structure and content of the local musical cultures. Using newly available materials and some of the results from a large Danish radio research project as the concrete example (but including other North European countries as well), I would like to comment on those changes in two ways. First, by discussing the ways in which radio in its formative years, by its use of music, among other things, contributed to a clearer articulation of specifically national spaces. The new medium contributed to class society in the 1920s and 1930s and the new welfare state, among other things, by choosing light music as its central repertoire. Second, by discussing how radio contributed to the transgression of national borders as radio amateurs searched the sky for signals from exotic places and as diplomats set up international radio organisations furthering musical collaborations across borders. In this way an interesting scenario of two different – but not mutually exclusive – cultural uses of radio appears: by using music and discourses on music radio may at the same time both localise or nationalise cultural space and internationalise it.

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