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Jazz Corner: End of Music?? Come Again…

The arts, and in this specific case music is what defines us as a civilization

Sunil Sampat Jul 23, 2019

The arts, and in this specific case music is what defines us as a civilization. Photo: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock.com

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I had to do a double-take when I read a view on music by Vinod Khosla, a billionaire venture capitalist from California. During a recent tech conference, Khosla opined, “I actually think 10 years from now you won’t be listening to music.” In the future, he feels that we won’t be listening to our favorite bands or artists. We live in times where some fantastic, outrageous claims and statements are made by political leaders worldwide. Mr.Khosla’s assertion fits very well into this realm. Maybe he has political ambitions!

Sorry, but the implication that in 10 years’ time we will have no jazz festivals, no rock concerts, no classical music, no operas, empty concert halls all over the world — is, simply stated, preposterous!

I have just a few common-sense thoughts in extension of this no-more-music claim. What will happen to all the young Mozarts, John Lennons, Elvis Presleys, Jim Morrisons, Bob Dylans, Zakir Hussains, Miles Davis’ and thousands of other musicians of the future who create their music? Will they not have a following of millions of fans? Tell me another…

The arts, and in this specific case music is what defines us as a civilization. Music is what helps us retain a semblance of sanity as a people.

Musicians are very special people. Through their music they bring unlimited joy, peace and happiness into the lives they touch. I don’t think they are going away anytime soon, thank you. They are not an endangered species for sure.

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So what does Khosla think will replace the great music of our times? He believes that “music consumers” will be listening to sounds designed specifically for them, their preference and their need. Music by mood. Wow! He also thinks artificial intelligence (AI) will cater to the consumer‘s needs. That view, to use an Americanism is ‘way out in left field.’ I just cannot see that music that one hears playing in a hotel lobby or an elevator can be personalized to the extent that it becomes relevant to a person‘s mood at that moment.

In any case, most of us pick out and listen to music to suit our mood, whether it is to enhance or alter that particular state of feeling. I certainly do. I will listen to the music of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie or Ella Fitzgerald almost any time; it will always uplift my mood, make my driving easier, remind me that all is well with the world and generally add to the positivity of the moment or even neutralize any negativity. I fail to understand how any AI, however sophisticated can even approach that.

I truly hope that this almost Orwellian concept is not a state we are headed for as a people. In the words of Isaac Asimov, “The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.” That is quite a chilling wake up call for us and calls for introspection. I hope we remember to enjoy the simple joys of life. Smell the coffee, enjoy each day and have plenty of music in it. The great sounds of music will always be around for us.

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