I’ve opined before about friends’ claims that I have no sense of humor. I have to concede—despite having occasionally laughed out loud in response to something that’s really funny—that there’s some truth to the allegation. As a result, today’s annually designated day for pranks is something I’ve never participated in much over the years. I’m not really able to dupe anyone most of the time (I’m a lousy poker player), and I’m also not that easily conned. But since a number of websites invest a lot of creative energy in posting outlandish content on April Fools’ Day, I fear that any music-related narrative that I’d attempt to relate today might be misinterpreted as some kind of joke. So, in that spirit, I thought I’d ponder a couple of the hoaxes that made it into my web browser today.
I have no intention of entering the World’s Greatest Living Composer Competition, but then again I pretty much have never tried my luck with any competition. That said, I was intrigued by the competition’s required submission of a composition scored for “one piccolo, one violoncello, and three contrabasses”—talk about no middle ground.
I also didn’t fall for Google Nose, although I might have done worse than fall for it—I’ve been thinking about it all day. If such a thing actually did exist, it would not only revolutionize internet communication, it would fundamentally change the world. At this point, just about anything we are able to see or hear can be digitally simulacrified, distributed, and replicated ad nauseum. As a result, the music, film, book, and magazine industries have faced serious economic challenges. Now with personal 3D printers a reality, if the costs drastically came down (as you know they will) similar challenges could eventually come to the auto industry and architecture. But imagine if it were possible to digitize the information we receive through our other three senses and have it be freely available 24/7 anywhere in the world provided there was an internet connection.
Virtual perfume? Chanel might go out of business. Digital food and wine? No need to ever order take out again, or perhaps eat period. A 24-year-old Atlanta-based electric engineer named Rob Rhinehart is already experimenting with a way to chemically generate all the nutrients in food necessary for one’s survival and has given up conventional eating. What additional scientific breakthrough would it require to infinitely replicate the atoms in those chemicals? And, if such a thing were possible, to enhance them via digitally transmittable taste and olfactory information for those of us who want a slightly more aesthetically rewarding experience than Rhinehart’s less than appetizingly named substance, Soylent, offers? Within a few years the Napa Valley would become barren. Not even such corporate behemoths as Budweiser or McDonald’s could ultimately survive this technological breakthrough. Or would those companies find ways to prevent the inevitable triumph of distribution services over content creators that have thus far eluded the music and film industries? Or would people within the latter 21st century Technorati eventually become bored by the absence of scarcity and find new ways to simulate it—as did Alastair Porter, who unveiled Ephemeral Playback during MIDEM Hack Day 2013 (something that actually would have made a good April Fools’ Day gag)?
Have you been fooled into believing anything today that somehow could change the course of music history or any other history for that matter? If so, please share.