Research seminar

Wednesday 13 April 2016, 4.00PM

Speaker(s): Prof Trevor Pinch (Cornell University)

The Sociology of New Instruments and New Sounds: The Case of the Moog Electronic Music Synthesizer.

This seminar brings together my work on social construction of technologies with sound studies. I ask why radical new musical instruments come along so rarely and how theories in science studies can help answer this question.

I show how new sounds and new technologies emerge and stabilize along with new cultural forms.

The talk will be accompanied by some classic synthesizer tracks and videos from the period.


Professor Trevor Pinch's main research centers on five areas: (1) the sociology of technology and how users engage with technology, (2) sound studies and music and in particular how sonic technologies and listening cultures develop, (3) understanding the role of materiality and agency in technology, (4) markets and the economy with specific attention to the study of selling, persuasion, and entrepreneurship. (5) He also likes to carry out side projects, such as a recent study with Professor Richard Swedberg on Wittgenstein's 1949 visit to Cornell.

He has authored many books and numerous articles on aspects of the sociology of science, the sociology of technology, the sociology of economics, and sound studies. His books include Analog Days: The Invention and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer (with Frank Trocco, Harvard University Press, 2002). He has recently finished editing the Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies and is part of the Cornell Institute for the Social Sciences (ISS) team 2013-2016 researching "Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship". 

Professor Pinch also broadcasts and webcasts a weekly radio show, "Webwatch," out of Paris, hosted by Radio France International. He is an advisor to the music technology start-up, "Thinkplay" and is also a performing musician with the Electric Golem and the Atomic Forces.

Location: I/D003