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Gail Zappa

Gail Zappa

Posted: October 29, 2009 07:56 AM

The Future of Music

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Long ago in a land not so mythical or far away as some would have you believe, certain corporate types over the age of 30 were intent on "engineering" a 'music scene' in San Francisco. It came to pass of an evening (in the vicinity of a stage) that a dispute concerning professional practices was resolved when one Bill Graham said to one Frank Zappa, "You'll never work this town again". Cut to our current climate under corporocratic rule where it is now possible for a 'promoter' (no longer an independent/veteran of city hall wars) to tell an artist (anywhere in the world) "You'll never work this planet again". This is real bad news for non-conforming types. Composers (or at least the one I know) are people who dream. They are not your target audience for an ambien-enhanced life sponsorship. (Perhaps someone should consider a piece on the Future of Sleep - in America at least.)

Moving right along: With the advent (and adventures) of the internet and coincident technological advances (Yes. You can get waaaay more information on the head of a pin presently than the Lord's prayer and all the lyrics of Neil Sedaka combined) it is now possible for more experimentation at a less expensive rate than having to hire a room full of orchestra to hear what it is the guy with the checkbook thinks you are doing. That potentially means more job ops even though the guy with the checkbook is more imaginary than ever these days. And with all those buttons to push and knobs to turn to administrate the frequential flow it makes it possible for everyone to be in the composing business. Oops! Just when it seemed that it was all good news a little flip of the switch makes it very bad - and even a little ugly on the side.

And now, just when you thought the news could not be worse, let's have a quiet little look at the future of copyrights. Exactly what and why are they? Turns out that the concept comes along with the concept of Freedom and all the rest of the stuff that is built into the Constitution of the United States of America - and other countries. This is part of the package designed to promote and protect the intrinsic reasons behind the salute to our flag. The idea here is that you can march with a beer in your hand but culture (and that is what we are talking about) is nothing more or less than the ideas of the people in this time in this place - and that is what it takes to make a nation. Such traditions as football may be tied to the morale of a country but music and all the other arts and sciences are its life blood. Find a place without music and you will find a dictatorship. Find one with state-sponsored, authorized music and you will find fascism.

Some believe the future of music is the future of spectacle - for that is what music is starring as these days. We know the show will go on. And on and on. Everything will be homogenized and recycled and well-lit. But let's address that last bastion of acoustical grandeur - the concert hall. (I smell some evolution brewing . . .) No matter how many orchestras continue to play the standard war horses, more, not less of them, are made up of players whose ears are more - not less - attuned to a wider variety of sound, including the music of recent generations. And many of these players are in bands of their own. I am not suggesting that this is dangerously so - just examining one tiny aspect of the evidence that suggests to me that the human race is genetically pre-disposed to love and require sound. And what is music if not organized sound. Although for many its enjoyment is social, for the few, the enjoyment of music - and its construction - is personal. Like the man said, "Without Music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid."

But I digress. As usual. So back to the future and a few predictions: Scientists (?) will prove that there is a "music" gene. The question will be asked, once it is proven that music changes your mind - literally, how? How does that work? And when the answer comes some will be surprised to note that, in the case of music, stereo does not refer to the number of speakers or ears. Music is exactly like sex in the sense that while human orifices are involved in the experience, the really fun part happens in the brain - the location of which will be found to be co-located in other regions of the body and even off-planet. And I hasten to add, when this happens, the deaf and others will hear real music and hearing will be redefined. And finally, it will be proven that humor IS a real component of music. Get some today.