“After finishing his lecture-performance at the Pulitzer Centennial Celebrationat Harvard University on Saturday, jazz musician and educator Wynton Marsalis imparted a piece of wisdom to me: the Internet is not shortening our attention spans.
“It’s not about the Internet—it’s about the cultivation of taste and of reflection, about communities sitting in reflection,” insisted Marsalis, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1997 for his three-and-a-half-hour jazz oratorio Blood on the Fields. ”When I was growing up, long before the Internet came along, our attention spans were no different. We still didn’t want to sit down and listen to some two-hour piece of music. In fact, the Internet should be making things better, because it allows us to reflect and interface with a wider, more accessible amount of information.”
While many contemporaries in the music industry seem to cling onto the Internet as a negative disruptor to their craft—stealing already-dwindling money, compromising integrity, distracting otherwise loyal customers—Marsalis claims that these are the wrong questions to ask about music. Instead, the 54-year-old advocates for music’s timeless role as a cultural change agent and community-builder, liberated from its ultimately ephemeral distribution channels.“