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History and Core Concepts

traditionally associated with symphonies and sonatas, and these will continue well into “the digital mu- sic revolution.” But that says nothing specifically about the place of instrumental art music in a digital world— a more difficult question. Absolute music in West- ern classical traditions might seem resolutely “waterproof” in the face of ris- ing digital tides, since it is defined by authorship, genre, and construction— identified according to principles of exclusion rather than inclusion. Digital Mythologies / 125 Absolute music has long been held up as music

exclusive sphere of artistic action that allows art to sustain a high level of prestige and, at another ideological level, to provide a repository of transcendental values in a secularized and skeptical world. (Whether it can do either one in a digital world is another question, for another time.) But the actors in this scenario are epithets, not persons. You can’t “humanize” their stories no matter how hard you try. The construction of their maturation or heroic creativity by the avoidance or defeat of interlocutory bonds — of influence in its wider sense

, it is still there, 184 L I S T E N I N G I N C Y B E R S P A C E intact and undiminished, quite unlike the grilled cheese sandwich I just ate. Or as Thomas Jefferson more eloquently explained in 1813, “He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light himself without darkening me.”12 Digital sound files, like ideas, are nonrivalrous. The analogy with ideas is not capricious. As the law professor Lawrence Lessig maintains, “The digital world is closer to the world of ideas

extent to which they not only make elements of com- positional design, improvisation, performance, and recreation available to their players, but also map musical attributes onto Caillois’s ludic modes.132 On being awarded a prize by the Multimedia Content Association of Japan, Iwai revealed the wistful desire, akin to that behind the pianistic inflections of Bizet’s Jeux d’enfants, that motivated him: “I’ve been longing for the feeling of my childhood in the digital world.”133 Iwai’s pursuit of paidia via digital chan- nels was matched by Yokoi’s commitment to