How Will We Make Music in 200 Years?

A group of innovators were asked to imagine what music will be like in 2214. If they’re right, it could be pretty bizarre

Artist Yoshi Sodeoka envisions musical instruments carried in satellites orbiting the Earth that would be able to “neutralize nations at war." (Kim Laughton)
smithsonian.com

Music has gone through some serious changes in the past 200 years. Consider that back in 1814, Beethoven was cutting edge, and the year’s most famous song was not about love, but war, a tune titled "The Star-Spangled Banner." Yet as much as music has morphed since then, its transformation will seem trifling compared to what will likely happen to it over the next 200 years. The pace of technology guarantees it.

Sponsored by the popular energy drink, the Red Bull Music Academy is a month-long festival of concerts and workshops featuring innovators in music. The event has had a 16-year run and moves to a different city each time. As part of the 2014 event in Tokyo earlier this month, some of the more creative minds in music, art and technology were asked to share their takes on how we'll make music in 2214.  

The artists responded with a wide range of visions, some of them seeing music 200 years hence as an intensely personal, even physiological experience, although another one suggested that only machines will be around to hear it.    

Here’s a sampling. The images are by graphic designer Kim Laughton, who offered his own prediction. 

Clone 101 Reality Player: Musician Jeff Mills

In Jeff Mills’ imagination, people in 2214 will experience music through a full-body “liquid suit” they apply like sun tan lotion. This coating, called the Clone 101 Reality Player, would contain thousands of microscopic sensors that enable the wearer to actually feel the vibrations of the music. 

But that’s not all. Mills suggests that Clone 101 would allow people to experience the creation of the music through the mind, sight and “psychological feelings” of the person who created it. In short, you would be there at the creation. Explains Mills in an artist statement: “Understanding how anything is created has enormous benefits to any art form. The thought process and the mindset of the creator leading up until and after the music was made could be a valuable tool in which to understand the true purpose and direction of the work.”

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