Wednesday, June 18, 2008

'Brain Wave' Music Possible (1949)

The August 28, 1949 San Antonio Light (San Antonio, TX) ran this article and cartoon about the "brain wave" music of the future. The piece quotes heavily from electronic music pioneer Raymond Scott.
CHICAGO, Aug. 27 - (AP) - Some day composers won't write music, and musicians won't play it - yet fans will enjoy it in never-before-heard perfection.

The composer or artist will simply project it by brain waves - "thought transference," says Raymond Scott.


This man, who thinks in terms of electronics and music, thinks that is all quite possible. Scott said in an interview:
"Brains put out electrical waves. I wouldn't be at all surprised if some day it were possible to do away with lines in music, such as writing it out and playing the notes. You'll just be able to think it.

"Imagine fastening electrodes to your head, inviting some people to your home and then thinking your music. If you wanted 1000 violins you could have them - and if you wanted the bass fiddle to play piccolo parts, you could do that, too."


Scott says even recordings will carry, instead of musical sound, the brain waves of the composer. No arrangers, no rehearsals.

Scott is a New Yorker who has spent most of his adult life working on new developments in his two loves, music and electronics. He maintains a permanent electronics research laboratory in New York, while he composes music and directs his bands for radio shows and night club appearances. His musical theories have always been off-beat.

See also:
Robots vs. Musicians (1931)
The Future is Now (1955)
How Experts Think We'll Live in 2000 A.D. (1950)
All the Music of the Centuries (1908)
Every Era Produces Good Music (1968)


Matt said...

Hmm. A prediction of the iPod?

Anonymous said...

All the infra-structure is in place for a development like this- apart from the actual device to read the brainwaves (not an insignificant item, to be sure). But beyond that, all the digital control stuff needed has been standardized for decades. We've seen some real sci-fi stuff in music over the last 20 years- the ability to generate notation from a keyboard performance, analog/acoustic pitch-to-digital real-time control and real-time pitch correction. I'd love to see the "think music" interface become a reality!

Anonymous said...

People may be more familar with Raymond Scott's "conventional" music rather than his electronic stuff--he composed the original tracks that, um, influenced Carl Stalling's music in Warner Brothers cartoons.