Music and technology

Blue filtered image of headphones slung over sound deck

From the first radio station playing live music to the instantaneous streaming of today, music listening has had a long association with technology.

During the past two centuries, recording of music and voice moved from Thomas Edison’s phonograph to vinyl, cassette tapes, CDs and now mp3. Alongside the evolution of recording and listening to music, the instruments and production of music have also evolved and continue to change today.

When George Beauchamp met Adolph Rickenbacker at a music shop in California, the idea to electrify guitars led the pair to develop the first commercially viable offering in 1932. Their invention of electromagnetic pickups converted a standard steel guitar into an electric guitar and the first steps along the path to modern music were taken.

The 1980s became famous for synthesised sound and with the 90s came a focus on more computer-generated music and production. As the decade progressed, most homes had access to computers and a new type of musician was born.

With the dawn of DAW (Digital Audio Workshops) such as Abelton and Apple Logic, and the availability of software to replace expensive electronic outboard equipment like compressors and synths, the bedroom musician could now create music to rival studios with relative ease and cost-effectiveness.

VST (Virtual Studio Technology) software plugins; high-powered computers; and the likes of Native Instruments Komplete 11 (offering 13,000 sounds and 10+ GB of instruments and effects) put a world of music at your fingertips. Whilst not cheap, it is still a much more accessible way for an artist to get creative than having to book studio time to mix their tracks.

In terms of promotion, platforms like SoundCloud and Audiomack facilitate uploading new and interesting music on a constant basis. Juno, Spotify, Beatport and iTunes encourage the downloading and streaming of acts signed to labels, while Bandcamp is becoming increasingly popular for independent artists.

With a whole world of music available online for DJs and producers to sample from; the accessibility of the equipment; and the platforms to showcase their tunes, it is no wonder that new artists and music creators are emerging all the time.

As with most sectors of society, the music world looks to technology for new and exciting ways to continue its evolution—and technology is not letting them down. The future of music sure sounds exciting to us.

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