A History of No Applause

One curiosity about listening to recordings is that there is no need to applaud at all. Nobody really does anyway. Why is that? Is it that the performers are not present? Is it not “live” and therefore undeserving of our recognition? Either way, silence on part of the listener exists in between tracks on a CD.

In its inception, the phonograph had to be an odd device. People could listen to music in complete silence: not outwardly acknowledging the performers like when one would go see a band in public.

Yet was outward acknowledgment was something that was always a part of music even before recordings? Of course it seems that applause has been in vogue for a long long time. Yet how long? Was there a turning point? Was some music not to be acknowledged?

Looking back into church and ambient music, chant of the Medieval and Satie’s furniture music of the 20th century come to mind as music that is not to be applauded. How far back does this go?



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