A New Sense of Time

The concept of time for the Aymara tribe consists of the past being in front. It’s what has already has happened and what can be observed. Behind is the future. It’s what hasn’t happened and can’t be observed: out of sight and out of mind.

Classical music is on Aymara time. The past is in front of us constantly in recitals of Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms. If anything is “new” it’s either from an established living composer or an established dead composer whose Sonata manuscript we found on a Viennese grandma’s mantlepiece. What is considered “modern” in recital halls can be at least a century old. Any concept of the future is behind.

The concept of time for the West consists of the future being in front. It’s what we’re going towards, what to expect on the horizon. Behind is the past. It’s what has happened and what is being left behind: out of sight and out of mind.

Popular music is on Western time. The future is in front of us constantly with a new singer we haven’t heard before every week on the radio. If anything is “old” it’s a single from a couple days ago or a song that has been on the Top 20 countdown for two weeks. There isn’t a hunkering for contemporary pop stations to feature popular artists of old like Gershwin or even Bacharach. Even music that’s thirty years old is irrelevant to the contemporary pop audience. Any concept of the past is behind.

Now what if Aymara time and Western time mixed? Could we have recitals of fresh and new composers along with Bach? Could we have a pop lineage hour that goes from Gershwin to Lady Gaga?

Music needs a new sense of time all together.

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