Brian Robert Fairley

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

New York U.

Grant number

Gr. 9992

Approve Date

August 26, 2020

Project Title

Fairley, Brian (New York U.) "Dissected Listening: An Ethnographic Media History of Georgian Polyphonic Recording"

BRIAN FAIRLEY, then a graduate student at New York University, New York, New York, was awarded a grant in August 2020 to aid research on ‘Dissected Listening: An Ethnographic Media History of Georgian Polyphonic Recording,’ supervised by Dr. Martin Daughtry This research project concerns the history of sound recordings of traditional music from the South Caucasus region of Georgia, with attention to their role in discourses of ‘world music’ and larger media narratives regarding the evolution of multichannel sound technology. The period of remote research funded by the dissertation fieldwork grant dealt with three chief moments in this history: recording experiments from 1916, 1930/35, and 1966. Without in-person access to the relevant archives in Vienna, St. Petersburg, and Tbilisi, research was undertaken using digitized primary and secondary sources’for instance, archival material from the Austrian Academy of Sciences’along with virtual interviews with interlocutors in Georgia. Most significantly, a research assistant in St. Petersburg made major discoveries at the Phonogram Archive of the Russian Institute of Literature, which holds material related to E. V. Gippius’s 1930s recordings of Georgian music, including a substantial, unpublished manuscript. In-person archival research was limited to a visit to the University of Georgia in Athens, where documents in the Guido Adler Papers provided crucial context for the 1916 recordings of Georgian prisoners of war, attesting to their significance in the development of ‘polyphony’ as a concept both within and beyond music studies.