Music as a Metatechnical Thema
Robert Albrecht (2004) proffered the notion that music alters “both our sense of self and society” (p. 7). This paper explores the central theme of music as a metatechnical construct that significantly shapes our consciousness as much as any other technology or technique. Starting with the idea that technology is an artificial ordering of the natural order of things (Ellul, 1964), the exploration of how music alters our surrounding environments in profound, yet often unnoticed, ways is examined through the historical and philosophical lenses of composers like John Cage, Brian Eno and Leonard Bernstein in order to place music within the context of media ecology as a powerful determining aspect of the ontic nature of being. The phonological, syntactical and semantical nature of music is discussed to demonstrate the linguistic properties of music, with supporting sub-themes including the physical nature of acoustics on the sensory nature of meaning making, and the notion of ambient music as a logical extension of the original intention of Muzak™. Finally, cultural, legal and ethical questions are raised as to the digital nature of music distribution within contemporary society including the proliferation of MP3 players, podcasting, peer-to-peer file sharing networks and the shift in technological societies away from music production to music consumption.
Keywords: Music, Technology, Philosophy, Metatechnical Thema, Media Ecology, Communication
Prof. Edward Tywoniak
Associate Professor, Chair, Department of Communication