A SHORT HISTORY OF ELECTRONIC MUSIC
AND ITS WOMEN PROTAGONISTS
A book by Johann Merrich
Published by Arcana, Rome 2021
Be prepared with a notebook nearby, for this text is a deep dive that features many unappreciated musicians and artists that are worth discovering
A very important publication because it is useful to reconsider in the right perspective the contribution and innovations of original and curious musicians, whose story has not been adequately told so far.
Not a list of exceptional personalities, but a first piece of a more extensive and inclusive mosaic.
Notes for the reader
Extract from the book dal A Short History of Electronic Music and Its Women Protagonists
Arcana, Rome 2021.
The majority of books dedicated to the birth and development of electroacoustic and electronic music do seem to only give us a partial outlook on this peculiar aspect of contemporary cultural production; essays and monographs provide an androcentric reading of the subject, rarely mentioning the contribution of inventresses, female composers and theorists.
Despite the teachings of official historiography, theatre programmes, photographs, private correspondence and newspaper articles, all depict a different image from the exclusive preserve of male artists, firmly attesting the female contribution in the creation of the 20th Century's sonic experience.
During the last twenty years, the independent music industry and new media laid the foundations for the rediscovery of some of electronic music's female pioneers that have now become famous names in musical research. Reissues of obscure records, playlists, blogs, and online communities, all contributed to stimulate the curiosity of the listeners, promoting research and inquiry. Digital communication played a pivotal role in this process, allowing information to spread more quickly and widely than ever, moving at a faster pace than official historiography.
As stated by the English researcher Frances Morgan in her article Pioneer Spirits: New Media Representations of Women in Electronic Music History, the downside of this recent media resonance is the coining of a new stereotype: heroine of the contemporary sound – the inventress or composer becomes a solitary presence laid on the surface of timelines regulated by the power of the primate. In its digital form, the history of the work of women in electronic music is separated from the male world by casting the spotlight on "the first woman to..." aspect, thus continuing on the path of exclusion and resolving the complexity of the issue in a handful of names disconnected from the broader picture.
The "young" age of electronic music – together with the traditional privilege granted by historians to the productions of North America and some European countries - contribute in obstructing the drafting of a paritary, diagonal and comprehensive understanding of this topic. Far from trying to be an essay or a musicological study, this book does not aim to be an all-encompassing work: it is simply a tile in a larger mosaic that is waiting to be recreated.