Music and the Future

An interesting article in Mixmag asks the question: Why does it seem like dance music has gotten so hard and fast recently? This question is a window into cultural intelligence.

The clues music provides are more than just what is explicit in the sound and visible traits of behavior – it is also in how those things demonstrate a pattern of change – a dynamic that reveals broader cultural codes.

Music is foundational to how I think about foresight within my own experience as shaped by being a small part of what was the nascent Detroit Techno movement in the early 1980s. Understanding how musical genres migrate and multiply is a crash course in the impact of subcultures as engines of social innovation. 

To understand Detroit Techno ( you need to understand how Detroit was uniquely positioned to cultivate the cultural movement. From the evolving hardcore punk scene ( to the Electrifyin’ Mojo on WGPR ( to the new European sounds seeping in through Canadian College radio. Sounds only available as import records at the time and not played on mainstream radio ( That hothouse of creativity had a unique linguistic potential. 

To understand how these movements evolve and multiply we can analyze the language. By language, I mean everything used to make meaning of that movement distinct — its closest influences, its instruments, its machines ( and its musicians all the way to the words that are used to describe it in the fanzines ( Music is an expression of the externalities of cultural change. Music is telling us more about the condition we are not able to express verbally and also what is about to happen next.