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Editorial Musings with Basil Ramsey

'... what shape are we musicians in for the next 100 years?'

The outlook: shocking talk



Already this year has the feel and speed of preceding years; and we are now rushing through the opening stages of a new century with the same endless blur of passing time. The 20th century turned over the page and left us pondering the dawn of the next that might so easily find Man taking that one step too far and destroying life as we know it.

We conveniently blame that scenario on scientists - you know, those people whom we assume to tinker about in laboratories like clever dicks confident of amazing forms of alchemy. Oh dear, what rot we imagine to delude ourselves. Unfair as it may appear, we must all accept a share of the blame. People who make the grade and rise to high levels of responsibility in whatever category are no more nor less finite beings than we. The instincts of race, creed and colour partially define their role in life, which leaves a goodly percentage of makeup to behavourial patterns ruled by whatever share of a civilising veneer has stuck fast.

From all of that, what shape are we musicians in for the next 100 years? Given that few of us will see the century through, we still have our individual paths to follow, and all of us must at times feel curious about the future of music. We know it is bound for unchartered waters. Maybe there will be less of a storm than some fear.

One has heard talk of music becoming a computer art with the creative role left to random choice. I for one oppose that view, only because as long as there is Man creativity cannot die. There has always to be a percentage of those born who will inherit musical gifts. Some of those will have it in overwhelming abundance - singling out the precocious talents of a Mozart or Stravinsky: it will possess them to an extent whereby they appear stretched beyond all reasonable human limits.

If ever there be a continuation of music within boundaries that we assume now to be exhausted, it will probably come from these superhumans with the capacity to rescue what has remained unexplored, or to work a new vein of musical development, and to shape this precious material with the abandon of genius.

Mind you, I could be utterly wrong. I - with many others - simply feel a probability that there could be some grain of truth in all of this hypothesising. Only time will tell. Meanwhile, every one of us could do well to objectively summarise what percentage of the 20th century's worthwhile music we know.

Prepare for a shock.


Copyright © 6 June 2000 Basil Ramsey, Eastwood, Essex, UK


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