ABSTRACT

The disembodied hands of spiritualist sittings touched people and levitated objects but also strummed guitars, rang bells, played closed pianos and accordions in cages. Likewise, the mechanical music machines of the time (orchestrions, pianolas, etc.) seemed animated by invisible fingers. Highlighting the historical and haptic parallels between these manifestations, the author addresses the lack of a visible performing body, which remains implicit through the invisible animating agency. She looks at the moment before music became abstracted into the grooves of the gramophone, when music still looked like instruments, though without the gestural presence of the performer. The article is illustrated with images from the author's project Automamusic.

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