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The Shape Of Things To Come?

The pace is hot; no sooner than there's a new technical development it's old hat. How do you keep up with the world that is modern music technology?

"THIS IS A really creative time in terms of music and the equipment that's available. It's very unusual that so much has occurred in so short a span of time - the last thirty years."

David Torn
Music Technology, July 1988.

"'Where will it end, this craze for things mechanical in music?' is a question that many are asking at the present moment. Every day, almost, sees some fresh 'piano-player' or 'orchestrion', or other automatic noise-maker offered to the public, and apparently a market is found for them all, and a new development is now to be noticed in the concerts given by the 'piano-players', at which vocalists and solo instrumentalists are accompanied by these automata. The more pessimistic might be inclined to say that the professional pianist is doomed, and that the function of a critic will be reduced to that of an engineering expert. True, in the case of a 'piano-player', one is still the 'operator', but he need not be a very profound musician to do his work, especially now that recent developments make it possible for the particular 'readings' by famous players of certain expositions to be exactly reproduced by following given instructions.

"And from automatic piano-players it will be but a step to the mechanical playing of other instruments, and even to the perfection of the automatic orchestra. But the craze, even if it should ever reach such lengths, will perhaps bring its own cure with it. Absolute correctness in art often becomes irritating, and it may well be that the public, sated with a brilliant perfection in the rendering of all the music they hear, would long for a mistake. And, after all, is there not a charm in the occasional slight hesitancy over a note, or the missing of one or two altogether in a difficult passage? And then, of course, there is the indefinable something in all art, that a mechanical process, however perfect, can never reproduce. But these will be the benefits resulting from an era of automatic music. The public will be saved from much atrocious playing, both professional and amateur, and, on the other hand, a player who has only a brilliant technique will fare badly. People will want something more than they can get from the machines in their own homes."

The Bystander, 23 December 1903.

"Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose."

Alphonse Karr
Les Guepes, January 1849.

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Music Technology - Copyright: Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.


Music Technology - Jul 1988

Editorial by Tim Goodyer

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