I like to joke about "When the revolution comes…" (as in, "When the revolution comes I am going to wipe every copy of PowerPoint from every PC on the planet"), but more serious revolutionary thoughts have been on my mind of late.
In May, CityMusic Cleveland – a chamber orchestra that takes free concerts to communities all over Cleveland, Ohio – is presenting a program called Revolutionary Music. The music includes likely revolutionary candidates: Ligeti, Ives and Beethoven (of course), as well as making an unexpected case for Vivaldi. Thinking about this program brings to mind the theory, which I heard so long ago I don't recall exactly where, that a "new music" (literally) has been emerging every 300 years or so.
Ars Nova in 1300 gives the beginnings of what ultimately became the high Renaissance (madrigals, etc.); Nuove Musiche turns up in 1600 with the invention of opera and the all-important idea of harmony grounded on a bass line, which of course is still with us; New Music of the 20th century opens the floodgates of invention.
Now it's possible that the wealth of new voices and diversity of styles in the past century means that the every-300-years theory is kaput. Or it could be that we'll get to 2200 (not us personally) and find there is a new "new music" that will allow musicians and music lovers to see the points of commonality and dependency in what's happening right now. How I'd love to be there.