The future of music at the Natural History Museum

Published: 19 June 2014 at 09:12

CoDE at the natural History Museum 3

CoDE Director Dr Rob Toulson's talk on music at the Natural History Museum, London, June 2014.

By Andra Ivanescu, CoDE Research Student

Looking towards the future is never more poignant than when you're surrounded by remnants of the distant past: in the vicinity of mammoths and dinosaurs, Cultures of the Digital Economy (CoDE) Director Dr Rob Toulson gave two lectures on 'The Future of Music' in the Attenborough Studio of the Natural History Museum in London.

Part of Universities Week 2014, the talks outlined how music making and listening have changed over the years, emphasising the democratisation of music making. We learned about basic acoustics and contemporary recording techniques, while also reviewing a basic history of music formats. Ukuleles, vinyl records and robot musicians made the public giggle while also giving them food for thought.

The CoDE team at the Natural History Museum (Richard Hoadley, Mariana Lopez, Rob Toulson)

We looked at simple apps that can be used to make or interact with music, such as Animoog, arguably the first pro synth for iPad, the increasingly omnipresent Spotify and the dilemma-solving Shazam. Dr Toulson also presented recent CoDE research in the development of album apps, a new way of interacting with music.

Participants were also invited to step outside and interact with the future of music themselves. CoDE's Dr Richard Hoadley and Dr Mariana Lopez encouraged the public to play with music-making gadgets of the future. Not only do you not need to be a musician to play them, you don't even need to touch them!

So, then, what is the future of music? Is it an app on your iPad, is it a pair of theremin bollards or a robot drum machine that could easily be programmed by a child? Is it physical or digital? Is it pure sound or is it also touch and movement? What we learned at the Natural History Museum is that the future of music is whatever you want it to be!