Will musical technology ever be as good as "the real thing"? Innovators tend to exalt the new, but "composer and inventor" Tod Machover sings the praises of old-fashioned instruments in the New York Times. "There isn't yet a performance measurement system," he writes, "that could come close to interpreting the exuberance, range and immediacy of someone like Gustavo Dudamel or truly enhancing the experience of an 'unplugged' symphony orchestra."
While he's also excited about new developments, Machover is intensely aware of the "paradox" of music as a material, technological feat, and also a spiritual experience:
The desire to shape the future is not perfectly compatible with the knowledge that musical experience--and its power to excite and transform us--is fleeting, here and now, in this very moment.
Machover opens the floor to readers, asking whether technological performances will ever match traditional virtuosi, before taking a leap into the speculative: "will an iPhone or its descendents allow us to enhance our musical imaginations while merging with our bodies, becoming--literally--second nature as we create and communicate our deepest thoughts and feelings through sound?"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.