Innovative music has always been inextricably linked to technology. The Pythagoreans set scales in accordance with their mathematical concepts of harmony in nature, Mozart wrote groundbreaking concertos centered around the newly invented piano, and The Beatles completely changed the face of popular music by pioneering almost every modern recording technique.
Today we live in a world of nearly unlimited computing power and connectivity, and, in light of this technological landscape, it should come as no surprise that the most vibrant field of musical creativity lies in the world of electronic music, particularly dance music, which seems to have finally taken root in America. There are two critical developments that have created this musical revolution. First, computers have become so powerful that there is essentially no creative limit to producing music digitally; there is literally an infinite soundset available to electronic producers, and this power is available to everyone in the world with even the most modest modern machine. Second, the complete integration of social networking has fostered music sharing on a global scale. Pushing the limits of technology and a peer-driven culture of sharing and promoting music were always the bread and butter of dance music. It’s no surprise, then, to see dance music’s ascension in a world where technology and connectivity are seemingly on steroids.
Thirty-five years ago Eddie Van Halen performed with his back to the audience to hide his innovative double-tapping guitar techniques. Today, anybody with Internet access can watch countless YouTube tutorials for recreating the sounds of their favorite electronic artists. There are more than 50,000 videos on Skrillex’s production alone. And while many purists may bemoan this democratization of music, citing the ever-shrinking profitability of a music career and the ever-rising amount of “amateur” music flooding the market, they ignore the profound implications of this paradigm shift. Every artist has access to what, ten years ago, only existed in multi-million dollar recording studios, and tomorrow’s next music phenomenon could emerge from anywhere in the world. As the first wave of musicians raised wholly in the digital realm (think Porter Robinson and Madeon) take the world by storm, we feel nothing but profound excitement to hear the conjurings of musicians who have grown up possessing the tools for unlimited musical expression.