Listening Out to the Future

2009 Royal Philharmonic Society Lecture - Susan Greenfield

in association with The Guardian

Given on 1 June 2009 at Kings Place, London

Technology has revolutionised our access to music - but does it actually help us to listen?

The lecture set music in a scientific context, discussing the development of the brain and its reaction to environmental factors. Baroness Greenfield compared sensory and cognitive experiences in relation to playing music. She discussed the effect screen culture has on thinking and the ability to grasp conceptual frameworks and abstract concepts, the blurring of the boundaries between the cyber-world and reality, and the implications for creativity in the future.

Baroness Susan Greenfield

is a neuroscientist and Director of the Royal Institution. No stranger to controversy, ­her recent comments in the House of Lords about the impact of social networking sites on the developing brain have made worldwide headlines - Baroness Greenfield looks at the impact that digital culture could be having on younger generations and their ability to focus on and interpret cultural complexities.

The lecture was signed by Andy Higgins.

The RPS Lecture

offers a platform for eminent thinkers and cultural commentators to examine aspects of the future of music.

The RPS Lecture is generously supported by Peter Bull

The theme of this lecture closely links to our listening project Hear Here!

Due to the multimedia nature of Baroness Greenfield’s lecture, no text is available for download


Sally Cavender, Performance Music Director, Faber Music: Many of our composers have been honoured by RPS Awards. The RPS is uniquely placed to support the huge variety of new music today.


The Schaller Bust of Beethoven, donated in 1871, has stood on the platform of every RPS concert since then as a symbol of excellence and support for the living composer.