Stravinsky's Prediction

With an extensive history of music already in place, one might wonder, what more could possibly be accomplished? Are there really any musical components left for radical exploration? Here is how Igor Stravinsky, one of music's most historically celebrated composers, decisively answered a similarly posed question:

Yes, pitch. I even risk a prediction that pitch will comprise the main difference between the “music of the future” and our music.
— Igor Stravinsky, Memories and Commentaries

Why would Stravinsky say that the transformation of pitch is the future of music?

If we look at the components of a single musical tone, whether it be from the voice or any instrument in the world, we see an endless series of pitches, many of which have still never been heard consciously in isolation, let alone heard in a musical or harmonic context. These sounds within one sound, or pitches inside one tone, which I will now refer to as partials, could be the music of the future that Stravinsky predicted. Partials work with largely different rules and principles than those that have already been established.

One reason for the discovery of additional partials, along with the expansion of what pitches are deemed acceptable, is modern technology. In Stravinsky's time, along with all the ages before, there was not an efficient way of isolating, and thereby hearing and discovering, complex partials. Only with relatively recent advancements in science and technology are we able to bring the more complex and higher partials into our listening experience.

With further advancements in technology, modern instruments can play nearly any combination of tones and partials that can be conceived. As in many areas of life, the modern era is a unique time for musicians to be alive due to the contemporary opportunities and changes that only this period has yet been able to provide. Certainly, a number of musical creators from the past would be envious of our current circumstances, for many of those prominent composers and players felt limited by the constraints of their generation. Even Arnold Schoenberg, a true innovator in his time, articulated:

We ought never to forget that the tempered system was only a truce, which should not last any longer than the imperfection of our instruments requires. I think, then, contrary to the point of view of those who take indolent pride in the attainments of others and hold our system to be the ultimate, the definitive musical system—contrary to that point of view, I think we stand only at the Beginning. We must go ahead!
— Arnold Schoenberg, Theory of Harmony

Perhaps we are entering that age where imperfection need not last any longer.