The end of recorded music

There’s no better way to end the working week than listening to a polemicist and Bill Drummond is a polemicist supreme. This one time member of the K Foundation was invited to contribute to the Free Thinking Festival. His purpose was to rail against the phenomenon of recorded music and to enthuse about what he sees as its inevitable end. Ironically, I was only able to hear this talk as I’d recorded that particular edition of Radio 3’s Night Waves, which you can hear again herefor the next 6 days. However, I don’t think that inconsistency would trouble Bill Drummond at all as he seems sufficiently mature to be at home with life’s inconsistencies. One further irony is that his piece doubles as a very good potted history of the recording industry and its effect on music of all sorts – in ways which contemporary onlookers would have found it difficult to predict.

Lest I portray the idea as negative (by having used the expression, “rail against”) let me encourage you with a couple of positive titbits. He is convinced that musicians of the future will be intent on a performance which is to do with “time, place & occasion” and also that forthcoming musicians will want their music to amount to more than something in the background while people get on with the drudgery of life.


It occurred to me as an afterthought to writing this that, while the average person’s musical diet might well consist mainly of recorded music with occasional live gigs, the average life of the instrumental pupil is quite different – mainly live performances with the occasional recording. It further occurred to me that most people – particularly those whose time at school was uninspiring, might completely overlook modern school life as a possible contender for living the very dream they espouse.


While looking for a link to the Free Thinking Festival, I noted with interest that there are videos to watch again of Will Self, Tony Benn & John Gray – none a stranger to polemic.