This reading relates the influence of technology in the music industry, and how it raises debates as to the boundaries between “instruments” and “machines”. It also questions the place the latter occupies in popular culture. It is hard to imagine a world without such use of technology, since our generation has grown up in a world where most music is produced (or even consumed) with the help of technological devices. Our generation has not witnessed the emergence and evolution of electric instruments; rather, we have come to take them for granted, without questioning their role in music. Thus, this article made me realize how new technologies come to challenge that which has become the main standard in a given field, especially in the music industry.
I find that such debates on whether new technologies are acceptable or not are quite legitimate, because such intrusions come to affect the essence of a discipline or art. In Bijsterveld and Pinch’s article, what struck me the most is how they describe they way in which the synthesizer had found a home in popular music. The analog instrument had indeed been “acclaimed as real music” (552), even though it was almost impossible to perform live. This could not be more true in today’s music industry: countless pop singers, whose songs have reached the top 1 spot in Billboard charts, are not capable of giving a decent live performance of their music simply because they cannot sing. In fact, most singers now have their voice altered through the means of technological devices. Consequently, these artists have to compensate their lack of talent with all sorts of special effects during their shows. This results in a reversal of our population’s standards when it comes to performances: people are now more surprised when an artist actually can sing.
As for the question they ask in their title, I think that yes, we should applaud; behind every “machine” is a human who programmed it, who directed it. No “machine” will ever perform on its own, there will always be a human’s touch somewhere along the lines of the piece’s creation. Thus, I think we cannot ignore new technologies, because it allows people to do new things in new ways. We must keep in mind that, just like the authors of the article mentioned, acceptance of these new technologies must come from an alignment between old values and new practices (559). We must honor the path that led us to where we have come to be right now, in order to be able to move forward and accept new novelties.