5. Stretching the sky
Since the 1950’s, new music has alienated itself completely from society and now only operates within an almost immeasurably small niche of enthusiasts. The general public has no knowledge or love of it. At least, that is what has been alleged for decades on a mainly cultural-political level. Even if this is true, it applies mainly to the traditional concert music presented in concert halls. Electronic music originally formed a small part of that, but on closer inspection has developed much more broadly and is increasingly present in all sorts of layers of society, from musical contexts to social sectors, from concert halls to healthcare, and from the public domain to computer games.
Society is anyway constantly on the move, and connections are made more and more frequently between science and art in solving social issues. Art – and therefore also music – is used increasingly often outside the context of the regular art scene. A shining example is the ever-growing reuse of old buildings, factories and company premises as creative breeding grounds with a clear role in urban development. They form transitional areas, which breathe new life into those older parts of the city through a more informal art practice with more direct public participation, and thus broader social relevance.
The practice of (art) music is becoming increasingly multidisciplinary. Composers are making more use of a mix of instruments, electronics and video, etc., and concerts are becoming more of an experience or event, just like the more accessible electro scene. The greater flexibility in presentation venues and the link to other arts and contexts is also leading to a different relationship with the audience. These developments thus demand a new attitude, new competencies and new skills from composers and musicians.
Is this steadily narrowing the gap between research, art and society? Is art music becoming more of a community art as well? Is there a continuum between accessible electronic music and electronic art music, and if so how do they relate to one another? Or is the situation outlined above a social development, alongside which a separate form of autonomous art music can continue to exist as a niche?
In this development, will the composer become more of a ‘maker’? A co-creator? A ‘designer’? A mediator? A researcher? And is the research component of electronics and electronic art even more relevant, as it can be used in a broader social context?