There aren't many experiences as definitively human as music. It's more than just an intangible sequence of sounds - it's emotion, it's experience, it's history and it's often a reflection of the society from which it originates. Like me and my kids, Oscar and Hazel, we sometimes jam in the garage, each one with a different instrumental role and contributing to our little symphony. Interestingly, music is one of those rare phenomenons that are universal but yet so distinctly diverse. From the heart-thumping beats of techno to the soulful crooning of classic blues, the various genres of music are as diverse as the human race itself. And just like us, these genres continue to evolve, adapt, and merge, birthing new forms and styles. It's a continuous, dynamic process, and predicting the genre that will soar to the highest of popularity charts in 20 years is a venture at the intersection of both thrilling and intimidating.
Considering the evolutionary trajectory that music has taken over the past century, we gain incredible insights into its potential future. Let's start from the jazz age of the roaring twenties. Jazz, a musical genre founded on improvisation and freedom, was not just a genre; it was the auditory exemplification of the spirit of the times. It gave way to the rise of rock 'n' roll in the 50s and 60s. Rock 'n' roll was rebellious, experimental, and liberating. It was a lot like my Oscar's teenage phase, unapologetic and a bit too loud. From the ashes of rock 'n' roll, multiple other genres took shape over the following decades - punk, heavy metal, pop, disco, electronic music, hip hop etc.
It's almost impossible to talk about the evolution of music without talking about technology's role in it. As technology advances, so does our ability to create, manipulate and distribute music. The invention of the gramophone, radio and vinyl records kickstarted the music industry's commercial aspect. The advent of the synthesizer in the 60s revolutionized music production and dominoed into the creation of multiple electronic music sub-genres. The internet and music streaming platforms have democratised music, raising independent artists into global superstars overnight. It wouldn't be a far stretch, therefore, to believe that future advancements in technology will heavily influence music's trajectory.
VR, or Virtual Reality, is seen as the next big thing in tech and numerous industries are incorporating it into their operations. But what does this mean for music? Given the immersion and the tangibility VR can provide, we're potentially looking at a future where you can virtually attend concerts from the comfort of your living room. You can jam with holographic avatars of your favourite artists in your own personal music studio. Now wouldn't that be something? A full on VR jam session with your all-time favourite band?
Right alongside these VR possibilities, Artificial Intelligence is beginning to gain a foothold in the music industry. We're already seeing AI systems that can compose songs and create melodies. Imagine, a future where we have AI-pop, where the major hits are all written by algorithms. Scary, but at the same time, exciting, right?
It doesn't take Hazel, with her budding interest in botany, to notice how different music genres are often influenced by others, resulting in new hybrid genres. Take Hip Hop, for example. What started as a rhythmic vocal style paired with an electronic drum loop has expanded into sub-genres like Trap, Drill, and Lo-Fi, just to name a few. This cross-pollination isn't just confined within music either. A lot of modern music often samples sounds from everyday life or borrows elements from other forms of art - what we call musique concrète. This is another aspect that is likely to continue influencing future music.
In the age of the internet, we've become more aware and appreciative of international music genres. The unprecedented global success of K-pop is a testimony to that. Cultural influences from the corners of the world can therefore play a significant role in the music of the future. And let's not forget, globalization also allows for integration and fusion of different musical elements, inspiring innovative musical styles.
As with any prediction, there's always an element of uncertainty. The beautiful thing about music is its diversity and unpredictability, much like life itself. Perhaps the most popular genre in 20 years hasn't even been conceived yet or maybe it's an evolution of what we're already hearing. Who knows, it could even be a genre that my son Oscar and I concocted while fooling around with our home music setup. What's exciting is the journey ahead, the unknown symphony that awaits us. Whether AI-composed algorithms dominate the charts, or a fusion of global sounds becomes the new sensation, the future of music promises to be as rich and diverse as its past. And I, for one, can't wait to tune in.