What is the use of live music in modern society? Have musicians become expendable relics of history, able to be replaced by synthesizers?
Since the Industrial Revolution, modern society has lived in times where human beings have created machines (not taking into account the prior inventions of the wheel and iron tools). While often controversial, these machines have arguably saved mankind an invaluable amount of time, money, labor, and have stressed efficiency and production. Although the best days of manufacturing seem to be in the past (at least in the United States), machines now exist in the realm of computers and devices. Technology has gotten so advanced that there are gadgets that can even think for human beings thanks to the advent of artificial intelligence; even the calculator is put to shame compared to a computer or a phone
In music, the trend toward greater efficiency and usage has been no different. The piano, violin, horn, and trombone have all evolved through history to produce more volume, ease of playing (even if not easy to play), and greater range of sound. It is not a coincidence that electronic music would be the hallmark of the twentieth century. Some examples of these instruments are the theramin, the novachord, and the electronic synthesizer/keyboard. Today, even computers are musical instruments.
The advent of recorded music should also be acknowledged. Ever since Thomas Edison’s phonograph, modern society has modified the design to find the most perfect reproduction of sound. Modern technology has become so successful that a live-streaming recording from a smartphone or other device no longer has the crackle or hiss of the “”ancient”” communication devices.
The reality is that synthesized and recorded music have become such a part of modern culture that it is often taken for granted. These genres are used in movies, television commercials, weddings, parties, etc.
So where does this leave live musicians? There are those who believe that live music still is and will continue to be relevant as long as human beings walk this earth. Why? No machine will ever reproduce the genuine human connection that a live performance produces.
When an engaging speaker gives a presentation, what kind of impressions or emotions does he or she bring up? The message being delivered is done so clearly and concisely, and is also timely, relevant, and emphatic. The same goes for live musicians. If one is to attend a concert and resonate with the message of the performer, these same impressions can be felt by the audience.
Other events where live musicians are indispensable for setting the mood are religious services and ceremonies, memorials, funerals, and commemorations. Another example where live music is important and necessary would be weddings. At weddings, music is crucial in setting the mood and communicating the emotions of the day during the most important part of the wedding festivities. The bride, groom, families, and guests all understand the universal language of music and it speaks to them on an emotional level.
Adapted from Why Live Music Matters by Daniel Broniatowski, 2013.
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