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Ivana Vesić

(Serbian Academy of Sciences And Arts, Institute of Musicology, Belgrade, Serbia)

How sound film transformed the 1930s entertainment and music industry? – a story from the European periphery


As the new technology of recording and projecting films with an integrated sound that first appeared in the US started to conquer European cinemas in 1929 and 1930 it was obvious that this innovation will leave mark on the various segments of the entertainment industry. In this phase, it was mostly cinemas that were undergoing deep changes both regarding their acoustic and interior design and their employees. A large number of musicians that were hired for accompanying projections of silent films became redundant worldwide almost overnight including the less developed countries. Although a lot of actors in the entertainment industry were sceptical about the destiny of sound film interpreting it as a result of a short-term vogue and mass curiosity, after a series of improvements concerning the quality of sound recording and reproduction in the early 1930s it was clear that this newly created multimedia art form would not be easily pushed to the margins. Besides gaining a prominent position in entertainment spheres of urban and even rural areas, sound film gradually also became influential in the music industry. To present the strengthening of its place in the process of music production, publishing, recording and distributing, I will present the results of the analysis of music programming of interwar Radio Belgrade (1929-1941) as well as the repertoire selection of the Yugoslav music publishing companies at the time. Taking into consideration the specific socio-cultural and socio-economic circumstances in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the prevalence of film schlagers in radio broadcasts and catalogues of publishing houses will be considered from different angles including the phenomena of “mechanisation of music”, cultural transfers and cultural hegemony. The aim is to depict the changing dynamics of the entertainment and music industry in the 1930s at the European periphery and its broader consequences.

Short biography

Ivana Vesić holds a PhD in Sociology and MA in Musicology. Her research interest is focused on the topics of popular culture, cultural policies, cultural diplomacy, music and ideology and music consumption patterns and practices. She published two books and co-edited two collective volumes. Her articles, chapters and reviews appeared in Serbian and international journals and volumes of some renowned international publishers (Brepols, Routledge /Studies in Cultural History, forthcoming/, Oxford University Press).