Document Type

Presentation

Publication Date

October 2009

Abstract

From the SEMLA report of the conference: Alan Wallace of the University of Tennessee gave a presentation on "The Amazing J. Lawrence Cook of Tennessee" that encouraged attendees to broaden their thoughts on the nature of artistic creation and recorded music. J. Lawrence Cook was a composer and arranger who throughout the course of his life created between 15,000 to 20,000 piano rolls for player pianos. Wallace discussed how the piano roll was the most common medium for recording and replaying music in an era before the widespread use of the phonograph and argued that the jazz music Cook cut into his piano rolls helped to interest people all across the nation in jazz. While the presentation focused on Cook and his creations, Wallace also recounted how his interest in Cook sprang from his inheritance of a player piano and purchase of rolls created by Cook, and how his research was furthered by his discovery of an international internet community sharing an interest in Cook. The work this primarily non-academic group of dedicated researchers has done to record and make available the history and contributions of the little-known Cook is impressive and showcases an emerging research model practically impossible before the advent of the internet.

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