The New Applied Musicology

Did Steve Jobs simply achieve what technology and society would have brought about anyway?  That’s like saying modern music would have been the same without Wagner.

Engelbart was trained as an engineer, and based his designs on engineering logic.  What if he had thought in terms of musical logic?  In terms of harmony rather than of architecture, for example?

Is bebop the musical parallel of networked interaction?

Are these new virtual classroom technologies a dead-end and a waste?  That’s like trashing the first piano.  We have to learn how to play it.

I’m paraphrasing here, but all of these statements were made in today’s New Media Faculty Seminar – and none of them by the musicologist in the room (i.e. me).  This is a very exciting development.  It shows how useful thinking about music can be as we grapple with the transformational technologies of our day, where they came from, and what’s next.  To understand technological “genius,” how metaphors shape design, how our technologies might be other than they are, and our experiences with new technologies, we do well to think about composers, musical instruments, musical styles – the history of music.

It’s the new applied musicology.



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