Music, Internet & Prophecy

4 July 2017
By Jacques Attali

Music has always been more than music. Not only it is what we all know and share: the ultimate expression of the specificity of mankind, its main differences with other animals (including those who sing); but it has always been, for those who can read those signs, the main way to predict some fundamental dimensions of the future.

Gautier Capuçon
Cello

In fact, since the beginning of times, musical changes (in technological, sociological and economic patterns), anticipate the other changes in society as a whole.

For a very simple and profound reason: music explores the kingdom of signs. And it is easier, quicker, less painful and less expensive to manipulate signs than to manipulate material things. In theoretical language, we would say that information is infinite, while energy is limited. Matter is energy. Music is sign. And music explores the kingdom of possible much quicker than material fields. Even if, and it is essential, music needs matter (instrument or voice) in order to be heard by human ears (We could say the same about finance, also based on the language of signs; and there are fascinating analogies between the evolutions and historical roles of music and finance).

We must take his warnings seriously. There is no doubt in the classical music world that the future is looked at with some apprehension: how will future audiences know about classical music? And where are tomorrow’s audiences – and talent – coming from? There are new worries too, as technology makes things easier to obtain but harder to appreciate, and the monetary value of recordings falls.

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