Musical Instruments as Traded Commodities: The Makers' Perspective

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

Abstract / Description of output

Musical instruments can be considered as traded commodities to which become attached values that are musical, cultural, social, visual, material, and technological. The makers of musical instruments therefore work with particular marketplaces and technologies to shape their products to address specific or diverse customer bases. How they do this depends on internal and external factors, including musical genres, customer status, material culture, and technological development. Once an instrument has left the workshop, its trajectory is beyond the control of the original maker. It becomes a commodity whose value and status changes over time and place. Some products achieve a status far beyond their original purpose or financial cost. This chapter explores how instruments exist as traded commodities. Using specific examples from late 18th- and early 19th-century London, I will demonstrate how musical instrument makers address their customers and the impact this has on the perceived value of their products. At the top end of the market, harp makers Erard will be used to explore how aristocratic customers were addressed. Further down the social scale, English guittar makers Clauss show how the middling classes were able to be musically fashionable, while the wide-ranging firm of Longman & Broderip illustrates how some makers aimed at all levels of the marketplace, diversifying and expanding to service an international customer base that required a wide range of instruments for different musical and social activities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationShaping Sound and Society
Subtitle of host publicationThe Cultural Study of Musical Instruments
EditorsStephen Cottrell
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor & Francis Taylor & Francis Group
Chapter9
Pages212-229
ISBN (Print)9780367816070
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • musical instrument makers

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