TED Conversations

Alex Urbanec

Barista, musician

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What will the future of music hold?

I spend quite a bit of my time studying the history of music in all cultures in order to understand where music will be going.

In the last hundred years alone, music has become incredibly varied. With the introduction of electronic music, we experienced even more variety.

What do you think the next century holds for music?


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    Jun 15 2011: Hi, Alex. Funny you should ask that. I happen to be researching nearly the same subject for a possible book, not necessarily to predict future developments but to understand the nature of music better. The mistery of music is what concerns me, as it has always been my main passion and I have taught music history in schools. This is a big subject being actively pursued by neurologists and other scientists. I would place the emphasys on the quite odd capacity of music to create a solid though invisible universe that brings a sustaining inner life to the individual which should be extended to all. Dance and pop don't do that. I maintain that it is only having an inner life and cultivating a passion that saves us at the end. However, I limit myself to the music I know, classical, jazz and some popular songs. From there I try to, yes, predict what works will still be in the repertoire of the symphonic orchestras a hundred years from now.

    There are many, many sides to this subject, so I am delighted to have found you here. I was considering placing a list of questions in TED with the aim of finding out the specific opinions others may have about well known works.


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      Jun 15 2011: Hey Gustavo..I didn't even look at your comment in framing mine..but we are pointing to the same thing..how fascinating!!! This will be fun to unpack together.
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        Jun 15 2011: Hi,Lindsay. Yes, I decided to start my own conversation on this subject. It interests me extremely. Now I'll wait and see. I can't hold my breath.
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      Jun 19 2011: Hello Gustavo,

      I believe this may be of interest to you. Have you ever read Daniel J. Levitin's books "This is your Brain on Music" and "The World in Six Songs?"
      I believe that both books would be directly related to what you are studying, and may help spur ideas.
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        Jun 19 2011: Hi, Alex, thank you very much. Yes, you are right. I know of the first Levitin book but not the other one. Trouble is, I know from experience that if I start buying every book I think I should read for my research I end up spending a fortune, which I don't have. So I read reviews and then look for the titles in libraries. However, I am narrowing down the subject and concentrating on getting answers to my concrete questions first. I thought that your example of musicians getting together to play spontaneously was wonderful. That's how folklore came to exist, when people lived near each other and could meet easily to celebrate and have a good time. They also had a fairly common culture and as a rule didn't travel more than a couple of miles if at all. In a modern capital, of course, that's no longer the case, so folklore is no longer a natural event. The spirit in your example is the closest to it. The music I am dealing, though, is of the more elaborate and lenghty type, so called classical, in contrast with easier, entertainment music. Different songs and dances will always exist, since we all need distraction, but we also have some masterworks from centuries ago, so one of my questions is what masterworks from the 20th century will still be there in another hundred years. You have studied the history music, so you are familiar with the repertoire.
      • Jun 26 2011: ALEX,
        Those Levitin books changed my life. No exaggeration.

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