NPR

Towards New Musics: What The Future Holds For Sound Creativity

Instead of fostering and clearing new paths for musical expression, the Internet has in many ways had the opposite effect. But there's plenty of potential, as two bright minds from MIT explain.
Source: Donald Iain Smith

In his brilliant, provocative 1966 essay, The Prospects of Recording, Glenn Gould proposed elevating – pardon the pun – elevator music from pernicious drone to enriching ear training. In his view, the ubiquitous presence of background sound could subversively train listeners to be sensitive to the building blocks, structural forms and hidden meanings of music, turning the art form into the universal language of the emotions that it was destined to be. In a not-unrelated development, Gould had somewhat recently traded the concert hall for the recording studio, an act echoed by The Beatles' release in 1967 of Sgt. Peppers' Lonely Hearts Club Band, an album conceived and produced in a multi-track recording studio and never meant to be played in concert. And while Gould's dream of a transformative elevator music never quite panned out, it is clear that from the 1940s through the '60s — from Les Paul and Mary Ford's pioneering use of overdubs in How High the Moon, to the birth of rock and roll with Chuck Berry's "Maybellene" in 1955, and on to Schaeffer, Stockhausen, Gould, The Beatles and many more — a totally new art form, enabled by magnetic tape recording and processing, was born.

Today we are at a similar crossroads. Music streaming – and, in general, music distribution and networking via the Internet – has become. And it could be argued that the vast potential of the Internet as an artistic medium has not yet resulted in a new kind of music, as potently different in form and content from what surrounds us as magnetic tape music was from live performance. In fact, it seems as if the Internet and streaming have changed everything about music except music itself.

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