Nobody can predict the future, if someone says he or she can, it’s a lie. And I will not be pretending knowing more than anyone else but I can ask questions. What is the future of music? Where is music going? I am not talking money-wise or distribution-wise, I am talking about styles and genres.
Every time I got to see a new indie band in LA, there are a lot of chances I will be using the terms ‘retro’, ‘60s-inspired’ when writing the review, as a matter of fact I just got to see a band at Amoeba, Nick Waterhouse, and the guy is 25 but he sounds like someone from the early 60s who hasn’t even listened to Elvis Presley yet! Not that I didn’t like it, but there is a serious trend of retro these days, I think I used that word for Ty Segall, the Strange Boys, Tijuana Panthers, Thee Oh Sees, White Fence, King Tuff, Audacity, Pangea, Tomorrow’s Tulips, Fitz and the Tantrums, Mayer Hawthorne and many others I am forgetting.
There also is an important old-style soul and R&B revival, wasn’t Amy Winehouse all about this? You could also take Adele as example or Charles Bradley, Sharon Jones,… I am not saying that all these revivalists are not doing anything for music, their different sounds are all interesting, are a mix of several things, and have originality, but are they the future of music?
In any case, haven’t all the melodies already been invented, all the styles been set up and isn’t the future of music more or less a rehashing of the past? After all there must be a limited amounts of chord progressions and aren’t all current most successful songs kind of trite and full of heard-a-million-times progression?
Of course, there are rap and electronics, which are relatively new styles, but a lot of them also consist in sampling and transforming music with computers, so again it is a re-use of the past or of what currently exists.
Are Skrillex, DeadMau5 and their dance-electronica genre the future of music? I don’t think real instruments like guitars, bass, drums and keyboards will be totally gone from the musical soundscape of the future since that would contradict absolutely the beginning of my post: young people are interested by retro sounding compositions. But so what else can happen?
Famous composer Brian Eno said: ‘It isn't new combinations of notes and chords that fuel popular music. It's the whole complex of notes and chords and beats and sonic landscape and performances and images and ways of inflecting and lyrics and so on.’
So, if he is right (and Eno is a brilliant thinker) the future has to be more and more complex, recycling old ideas and adding new ones at the top, just like biological evolution to be honest, everything in nature is a sort of ‘bricolage’, and music doesn’t escape the rule, it is a series of add-ons at the top of already-existing stuff. However, it will become more and more difficult for the listener to find his way through this complicated maze.