It is interesting to examine Sousa’s criticism toward mechanical music from a modern perspective, since the technology of music recording and reproduction has become a part of our lives. I disagree with Sousa’s point on how the phonograph will bring harm to the artistic side of music. In this article, he over exaggerated in his description of the menace of recording techniques, and there are fallacies in his opinion on the nature of the phonograph. For example, Sousa wrote about how phonograph will replace actual players and make people reluctant to practice music. However, although the easy access to music might cause decrease in number of players and singers, the phonograph will definitely not replace live music, since after all, it is actual musicians who are creating and playing music. In the end, the phonograph is just a medium to capture human produced music. The essence of this art is still the same: people are still moved and attracted by the emotions conveyed through the composer, the players, or the singers. The music will not become “without soul or expression” as Sousa wrote.
However, I do agree with Sousa’s insight regarding the copyright protection of composers. It is absolutely important that people recognize the emerging problem that the reproduction of music brought to the musicians. Nonetheless, the copyright issue is only a natural side effect of a revolutionary invention, not a problem with the technology itself. As long as the legislation is keeping up with the technology, the obstacle should resolve over time. Although it might seem that Sousa was worrying too much at the time, it is insightful for him to reflect on the potential harms of new technologies, instead of accepting it without evaluation, so that it functions in the most beneficial way.