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.