The question of what kind of music is this is not as easy to
answer as it used to be. If one studies the history of Western
Classical Music, the origins come from liturgical and secular
examples. As humanity moved into the 20th Century, music
did also. 600 years of very strict form suddenly branched
out in the 20th Century to innumerable styles of classical and
Simply studying the history of jazz in America, one sees
jazz taken up by European countries, Japan, and many more.
Now we have the concept of global musical fusion in which
indigenous musical forms (e.g., nondiatonic) are mixed with
established diatonic traditions. Then with the advent of
electronics, noise and synthetic tones are introduced to the
medium. Music is written for movies, dance, drama, opera
and choral performance to name a few.
Now that we have one foot in the 21st Century, what will the
future bring? Music mixing, synthesizers, equalizers, and a
plethora of new electronic musical instruments create a
a whole new world of possibilities without doing away with
traditional acoustic performance. The number of extant
recorded pieces of music far exceeds one billion. It is likely
no one knows how many pieces of music currently exist.
The number is rapidly increasing. Now there are well over
a hundred categories of music. New categories are being
invented while we listen.
What does it matter how many categories there are? It has
do with identification and acceptance. If a piece of music
is supposed to sound like a recognizable form. The extent
to which it doesn’t is very much related to its success or
failure. Even fantasias and preludes, music that is some-
what free form in its style, still has a style. Even, rock and
roll, jazz and trance music all have a recognizable sound.
Folk Music, Gagaku, Twelve Tone and Electronic Music
all have a style. Music is changing. This is the 21st Century.
What is music supposed to sound like? An amalgamation?
We will invent new sounds and new possibilities.
Gary Michael Graves, San Francisco, May, 2010