Digital Orchestra Performance in 2050?

Given technology’s inexorable march forward, how good will digital musical performances sound by 2050? This chart says it in a nutshell:

Clearly the best digital orchestral performances already surpass bad or even mediocre live performances. It’s only going to be a short time before they can equal, and surpass, the best orchestral recordings. But will they ever be able to deliver a musical experience as good as the best live orchestra performances?

Perhaps, if you compare the rate at which digital orchestral performances are improving to the rate at which live orchestra performances are improving, you might answer, “yes, some day digital musical performances will be as good or better than the best live performances.” But what would it take for that to happen? Much better digital instruments, for one. And much better trained musicians to be able to play these instruments.

What about the spontaneous aspect of live performance? Obviously that is already lacking in every single recording … but could it possibly be re-introduced into a live digital orchestra performance? Of course it could. And of course it will take a lot of time and work to develop that to the point of being capable of delivering the most superlative musical experience. After all, the symphony orchestra didn’t just emerge over night.


2 replies
  1. Paul Henry Smith
    Paul Henry Smith says:

    Tarkan, you bring up an interesting point that sometimes orchestra players themselves get in the way of making music.

    However, I would never advocate for musicians behaving more like computers. In fact, I think one of the problems with orchestras is the expectation that the musicians follow orders. That expectation often comes from the musicians themselves. They often get mad when a conductor suggests they figure out how to phrase something, insisting that the conductor “just tell us if you want it louder or softer” or some such comment. It’s a lazy approach that never results in art on the highest level, of course.

    Even when the musicians are not lazy, but highly engaged, they can sometimes prevent excellent music-making from happening when they balk at a conductor’s personality or even his or her ideas about how to play music.

    Lest you think this only happens in lesser orchestras, I would point out that Christoph Eschenbach recently decided to quit his job conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in part because “80 percent of the musicians did not agree with his artistic interpretations and that 80 percent of the musicians left concerts feeling great anger.” [Philadelphia Inquirer]

  2. Tarkan Songur
    Tarkan Songur says:

    since 20 years I ve been thinking, is it possible to create symphonic orchestra with using only sample keyboards with keyboard players.
    I kearned now, there are some people also may think like me.
    Your recordings are great.
    I am sick of dealing with, whimsicak string players. and caprice orchestra players At least keyboards. and technical musicians are rising…..


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