Welcome to the Future

Welcome to the Future

George E. Lewis: a new sonic sociality
the best future of music speculation I’ve seen since cage’s 1937 credo was Attali’s 1977 prediction about the jongleurs taking over music with anti ritual post spectacle genre ignoring globalized nonreproducible fun unlike most future of music predictions he included afrodiasporans as major actors which should seem obvious but somehow eludes many otherwise very smart people a new mode of social structuring he said now if you can do that musically that could make music making interesting again having the whole field of sound without sociosonic agency how impotent

the truth of that brief credo permeates all known present genres even the ones that pretend never to have been kissed by an electron studios simulate spontaneity and everybody wants to be amplified otherwise no one pays attention to dunn’s bark beetles not to mention a rat pissing on cotton but the old man was wrong about the composing performing listening incommensurability they all network via improvisation in fact the practices merge under the new technology but don’t worry fans all you need to make your bones is for one good prophecy to come true look at jeane dixon

I remember don buchla saying something about how it all went back to the theremin funny how a little rf field connected to simple oscillators and amplifiers can transduce complex emotions and intentions but don’s lightning and lots of other emotional transducers we’ve been building since the original produce data streams that permit interactive collective decision making with computer interlocutors that connect different art practices to facilitate collaboration and genre/media hybridity

why fuss over werktreue organicism autonomy and other fashions when compositions can now be self modifying entities that interact in real time with physical and virtual environments simultaneously when what used to be called records move past information storage and retrieval models of aesthetic experience to become responsive and evolutionary problematizing copyright and consumerism in a more profound way via the internet and its successors

talk about ubiquitous computing private and public spaces can easily interact with the improvised rhythms of daily life using wifi gps rfid etc remember how la monte and marian suffused their apartments with oscillator drift well north americans already had 24/7 tv dreamhouses but the dreams don’t belong to us this impositional intentional deafness annoys my four year old

history intentionality memories bodies and most of all improvisation are key to this new sonic sociality the brain thing is for later no killer app has convinced us to get chipped just the dog

jazz put improvisation and interactivity back on the worldwide western table but retrospectivist aesthetics and survivalist shakers will be ignored by many even as residual institutional power manages to deselect some from this future of music others will decline discursive discouragement to create new sonic socialities that will inevitably suffer and benefit from corporate commodification

people will interact and improvise and/or die

musicians will take a chance


George E. Lewis is the Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music at Columbia University, and the director of the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia. The recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship in 2002, an Alpert Award in the Arts in 1999, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Lewis studied composition with Muhal Richard Abrams at the AACM School of Music, and trombone with Dean Hey. A member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) since 1971, Lewis’s work as composer, improvisor, performer, and interpreter explores electronic and computer music, computer- based multimedia installations, text-sound works, and notated and improvisative forms, and is documented on more than 120 recordings.

His published articles on music, experimental video, visual art, and cultural studies have appeared in numerous scholarly journals and edited volumes, and his book, Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2008.

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