The menace of mechanical music
In a 1906 edition of Appleton’s Magazine, John Sousa predicts a deterioration of music and musical taste — “impending harm” — because of the introduction of “music reproducing machines.”
Sweeping across the country with the speed of a transient fashion in slang of Panama hats, political war cries or popular novels, comes now the mechanical device to sing for us a song or play for us a piano, in substitute for human skill, intelligence, and soul. …. From the days when the mathematical and mechanical were paramount in music, the struggle has been bitter and incessant for the sway of the emotional and the soulful. And now, in this twentieth century, come these talking and playing machines, and offer again to reduce the expression of music to a mathematical system of megaphones, wheels, cogs, disks, cylinders, and all manner of revolving things, which are like real art as the marble statue of Eve is like her beautiful, living, breathing daughters.
For technophobes, this is nothing new. Ars Technica covers in terrific detail what fears these emerging technologies bring out in rightsholders. From the introduction of writing itself to radio to television to the digital camera, there’s been handwringing over the destruction to the natural state of things bought by advances in technology.