So why does music – one of the most creative of all human pursuits – have a mainstream that has been so astonishingly slow to recognise these changes, let alone to adapt to them?
Why, when there is so much creative energy and passion in our industry, has the infrastructure around which we work kept us focused on the past not the future, in a way that's
How Technology Affects Music
No, I want to drill down from a musicological perspective, to understand how technologies have altered the way we create and consume music, and therefore changed the music itself.
Because think what we could have achieved! If we had known the principles behind the forces that changed our world so suddenly in the past decade, we could have risen to the challenge and met them in advance… Our educational institutions, record companies, and orchestras could have attacked head-on the challenges of reinterpreting a great tradition for a changing world, rather than passively standing by until all the money and attention was sucked out of the system. Instead, we had to retrofit our great heritage to the demands of a new order, with all the casualties that entailed, as arts organizations collapsed, and a few monied souls played God, feeding the preferred pawns on the musical chess board.
Technology is frightening, because it amplifies human behaviour without moral judgement; just as it will spread beauty and brilliant ideas, so it will spread evil. There's no stopping progress… all you can do is to stay one step ahead. What kind of culture do we want tomorrow's politicians, business leaders and scientists to emerge from?
We have to decide where we want our musical culture to fit into this brave new world. Music has no power to change anything per se… yet time and again, the values and heritage of our collective cultural experience have proved valuable, for everything from emotional solace to motivation to spiritual enlightenment.
I think music is like technology because it is a vessel through which you can channel and amplify your own ideas and prejudices.
But by definition that means music carries no moral value – it can be the conduit for whatever you choose. Your Wagner can be all-encompassing greatness or Nazi propaganda music, or something else entirely; it's up to you.
Instead, we become resistant to change, and our cultures become more and more at the mercy of an unpredictable future, until the incredible knowledge and wisdom of our most precious traditions finally become irrelevant.