The "Current of Music"

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  • Title: The "Current of Music": Reproducability and the Broadcasted Symphony
  • Author(s): Clemens Ackermann
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: The Arts in Society
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Arts Theory and History
  • Keywords: Walter Benjamin, Theodor W. Adorno, Reproducability, Princeton Radio Research Project
  • Volume: 14
  • Issue: 3
  • Year: 2019
  • ISSN: 2326-9952 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2327-1779 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/2326-9952/CGP/v14i03/33-43
  • Citation: Ackermann, Clemens . 2019. "The "Current of Music": Reproducability and the Broadcasted Symphony." The International Journal of Arts Theory and History 14 (3): 33-43. doi:10.18848/2326-9952/CGP/v14i03/33-43.
  • Extent: 11 pages

Abstract

Theodor W. Adorno joined the Princeton Radio Research Project in February 1938 and would remain part of it until November 1941. From the corpus of his studies, only three essays were published during his lifetime. However, numerous essays, mostly fragmentary, were reconstructed and recently published in the collection “Current of Music.” All the deliberations in this volume revolve around similar questions. Central to Adorno’s aesthetic investigation was, among other issues, to uncover what music as a work of art loses once it is being broadcasted. In order to comprehend Adorno’s concerns regarding music’s dissemination—both concerning the music itself and the social ramifications—I will in the following article trace Adorno’s analysis of broadcasted symphonies as he presented it in various essays from 1938 to 1941. Two questions will be at the center of this treatise: 1. To what extent does the mechanical/electronic reproduction of symphonic pieces engender the withering of their aura? 2. What are the social ramifications if said spell is lost? In order to approach these questions, it will be necessary to make a slight detour via Walter Benjamin’s essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducability,” so as to understand to what extent Adorno challenges and partially redefines Benjamin’s thesis.