In 100 years, what will people remember about our music today?

Oct 22, 2015

Interlochen Arts Academy Band Director Matt Schlomer leads his band in rehearsal.
Credit Daniel Wanschura

Do we have a music that describes our time and place today? 

That question was recently explored during a concert at Interlochen Arts Academy.

In the early 1900’s, pianist and composer Percy Grainger began thinking about the type of music that might describe both England’s time and place - a sort of national sound, if you will. 

 

Grainger became convinced that the old English folk songs of the day, best captured the authentic sound of the country’s music.  So, he began trudging up and down the countryside, preserving the tunes on his Edison wax cylinder recorder. 

It was Grainger’s quest that got Interlochen Arts Academy Band Director Matt Schlomer thinking…

“What was he trying to capture about those people?” Schlomer asks. “And what would somebody 100 years from now, if they were going to capture our time and our people and our place, what would they be trying to preserve their version of a wax cylinder recording?”

Earlier this month, a variety of Interlochen students collaborated on a concert, exploring the idea of folk songs and how they capture a time and place. They even created a folk song that evening based on feedback from the audience. 

And folk music, doesn’t necessarily mean Peter, Paul, and Mary, it’s also any type of music that catches the essence of a people. It could be an old Hymn, a film soundtrack, even Taylor Swift.

The concert explored four different categories of music— pop, spiritual, show, and fantasy—  leaving audience members to ponder what music later generations would want preserved. 

100 years ago, people huddled around radios and listened to what was played. Now, with on-demand music, people are more specialized in their musical tastes and less likely to be grouped under a certain style.

Still, Matt Schlomer personally thinks that the music of our fantasies, music from films and video games, represents the idea of a national sound better than others. But, he hopes the concert left audience members to form their own conclusion on what today’s folk music is. 

“I hope they leave with fantastic discussions on their way home, perhaps even disagreements about what the answer might be,” he says. “And just explore the role of music in their own life, because it’s a fascinating thing that sometimes we just don’t even think about.”