Date of Award

May 2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Music



First Advisor

Gillian Rodger


afrofuturism, chile, electronic music, les paul, music technology, sun ra


This thesis analyzes Les Paul and Mary Ford’s high-tech pop, Sun Ra’s proto-afrofuturist jazz, and Chilean electronic music to explore how new modes of musical expression and technological advances were shaped in relation to gender, race, and political policy. Les Paul’s development of new recording techniques reflected postwar attitudes toward scientific progress, and the way he presented these “New Sounds” with his wife Mary Ford reinforced gendered notions of domestic space. Sun Ra’s appropriation of Space Age themes with the Arkestra was a synthesis of 1950s Black radicalism and racial uplift initiatives from his early life in Birmingham, Alabama that subverted dominant narratives of technological agency. The rapid development of electronic music in Chile was made possible by government support of educational and cultural institutions, which quickly evaporated when dictator Augusto Pinochet rose to power. These case studies reveal how both music and technology are woven into the tapestry of history and culture that gives them meaning.

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