Part 22. The Future of Rock

Futurologists tell us that within the next eighty years we will all be zipping around the sky strapped to personal jetpacks, take our vacations on the moon and be able to choose from over four different flavours of yoghurt. This much is obvious. But what about music?

We have traced the history of rock and roll from those early pioneers such as The Rolling Stones and David Bowie right through to latter day stadium fillers such as Bowie and The Stones. What might the future hold? What will our children and our children's children be complaining about as they float around in their anti-gravity podules whilst mind-melding with the great intergalactic consciousness and firing laser beams out of their arse?

Casey Betamax

One person who thinks he knows is Casey Betamax, former columnist for What Scientist? magazine and presenter of popular music show Turn it Up, Mate. He believes that technology will continue to have a decisive influence on future music, in much the same way as it has over the last few decades.

For example, the invention of the vinyl record played a crucial part in shaping music - it made it round, whereas previously music had been cylindrical. More recently we have seen physical forms of storage disappearing, usually down the back of the sofa.

Today we use devices such as computers, phones and 3D toasters to download and play music, but in the future these will become obsolete as content is pumped straight into our heads via microwaves, psychic mind buggery or, as Casey Betamax believes, some kind of groovy futuristic socket hardwired into your skull. Inevitably there are going to be several competing formats, and Betamax advises opting for a USB as he reckons that you're going to look like a right twat if you have a serial port fitted.

Actual music

So what will this mean for the actual music? Well, Betamax is excited that by liberating music from the limitations of hardware it will be possible to create sounds that could not be duplicated in any physical form. He has already theorised that our current spectrum of notes, represented by the sequence Do-Re-Mi-Fa-Sol-La-Si-Do, could be greatly expanded, and he has suggested the addition of Po-La-Rum-Pum-Ping-Ding-Dong-Po, as well as ultra-Mi and infra-Fa.

But even with the addition of these notes, the search will still be on to find exciting and interesting forms of new music. Over the past few decades so-called 'world music' has become increasingly important with instrumentation, rhythms and styles being adopted from various different cultures.

Experimental composers, analytical musicians and session boffins are constantly researching new musical forms, such as the Patagonian Belching Songs of South America, traditional East Anglian knuckle cracking ditties and Czechoslovakian Squelching Melodies. Just last month, exploratory audiologist Kenny 'No Relation' Loggins scored a big hit with a 60 minute recording of a Japanese man being sick into a bucket, although there have been claims that the middle section plagiarises a 1972 Santana track.

A finite amount of music

But Casey Betamax believes that these efforts will not be enough. Vast and culturally varied as our planet is, there is only a finite amount of music available.

Betamax believes that we will have to look to the stars for inspiration and he is one of the most vocal supporters of a new project designed to listen for alien broadcasts. The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Tunes Eventually Everywhere may seem like a bit of an uncomfortable mouthful, but pleasingly the acronym is SETTEE. Betamax believes that if the project gets the green light mankind will be able to finally tune into alien transmissions and illegally download space music, and Johnny Spaceman won't be able to do jack about it because their courts don't have jurisdiction.

Obviously, all of this will eventually be true.

Ricky Stratocaster has an original pressing of The Chipmunks Go To The Movies signed 'To Phil. Hope it heals over. All the best, Theodore'.

Return to 'The History of Rock'

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