Published online by Cambridge University Press: 15 September 2022
‘I happen to think that computers are the most important thing to happen to musicians since the invention of cat-gut which was a long time ago’ (Moog, in Williamson 1990). Electronic music pioneer Robert Moog’s (1934–2005) words point to the two main stories of instrument development in the twentieth century. One was concerned with newness and saw traditional instruments undergo transformation through extended performance techniques, electrification and amplification and the creation of brand-new devices. Equally radical, the other was concerned with the past. Focusing on preservation, it saw renewed interest in ancient and early instrument restoration (and a return to cat-gut strings), performance practice and musicological research. While it is tempting to establish a stark binary between these two stories, in many cases we will find that a rich dialogue flowed between them.