Ramblings: Reprise - What Will Music Be?
Some topics for the Fourteenth Walk, Bwlch Penbarra to Bodfari, Mother of the Mountains, 9 m
Writing New Music
Classical composition was limited to the select few by education and personal circumstance. When writing, the composer needed to be able hear with their inner ear what the end result would be. Without this ability, writing music was almost impossible, because the means for trying out anything but a keyboard or solo instrument on the spot was impractical.
Computer software enables the modern composer to hear instantly the results of their composition. Not only this, correcting, updating, reproducing or editing is a click away.
The end result is that anyone with the inclination and the will can now write music. Even a few years ago, this would not have been possible.
Is this a good thing? There are pros and cons. It is, whichever your point of view, a significant factor in the changing nature of music.
Performing New Music
The customary concert of audience juxtaposed with performer is a relatively recent innovation which coincided with music's classical and romantic eras. The performer/audience relationship was challenged considerably by contemporary music through the 20th century but has largely remained impervious to change.
Concert formality is essential in maintaining standards and providing the cash to support music, performers and composers. Without the unpredictability and visual delights and socialising of a live performance, the listener misses a great deal that the spirit of music is all about.
However, a much more informal presenting of live classical music has much to recommend it. Concert venues are remarkably slow in coming into the 21st century.
Listening to New Music
The opportunity to hear classical music used to be limited to courts and churches. Then came concert halls and the making of music 'at home'. Later came recorded music and radio. Now we have digital broadcasting, streaming and portable devices that can hold complete libraries of recordings.
Listening to live music is a social occasion. In contrast, a bi-product of digital technology is the ease of having your music with you and available any time and any place, with the ability to listen in complete privacy, 'between the ears'. A way of listening that is a private and personal experience is a characteristic of our time.
We are surrounded by music as never before and can pick and choose what era and what style we wish to listen to at will. History used to be a timeline stretching back into the past. Now it is a circle that surrounds us. Placing ourselves once more in the centre of this circle, music becomes person-centred, a little like returning the earth to the centre of the solar system.