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Music and the New Technocracy


Recent, apparently inexorable developments have led to the ever-increasing influence of technology on many aspects of our lives including music. A composition teacher is as likely to receive a submission that is 'music processed' as it is hand-written, the 'performance' a sequence controlled rendition by a computer's sound-card (far easier than dealing with people). Everyone can do it (and many do, badly).

Music technology's prophets have for some time promised new horizons, new techniques for people to take part in something previously requiring specialist knowledge. With 'intelligent' software, of what use is the latter?

There is also a widening divide between those who are able to take advantage of new technology and those who aren't, or won't. While some musicians refuse to accept the significance of any technology, there are those who do not feel the need to acquire this 'specialist' knowledge, and they have considerable and growing influence. Some 'music' courses do not require an understanding of 'classical' harmony, or even of musical notation. Is this a fundamental shift in musical development? If it is, how long will it be until these musicians effectively control this, whether through software development, education or the internet?

There is clearly a balance to be drawn between the positive and negative aspects of all this - but where? What real, long-term effect will technology have on music and how much, if at all, should we resist or embrace it? How far should we go in encouraging people to take from it whatever they can? Should we spend our time encouraging a respect for things of the past? Are we capable, even if we wanted to, of abandoning the past so completely? How much control have we, or must we accept the ascent of technocracy in music?

Title of paper: Music and the New Technocracy

Author & Presenter: Richard Hoadley

Affiliation: Music Department
Anglia Polytechnic University
January 2001

Audio Visual Requirements: Data Projector

Dr Richard Hoadley
Music Department
Anglia Polytechnic University
January 2001