Music and technology go hand in hand and music couldn’t evolve in time if it weren’t for new discoveries in technology. Who would have thought in the ’80s that such a small device called iPod could store and play an entire collection of albums?
Well, maybe Steve Jobs did. Until his adorable “baby” hit the music stores, music could only be heard on the radio, television, Internet or tape recorders. The impact the iPod had on music is similar to the talking pictures, which emerged at the beginning of the 20th century, leaving many movie-house orchestra musicians unemployed. Nowadays, nobody produces tape recorders, nor tapes. We produce and buy only CDs, DVDs and vinyl and most of the music shopping is done online, on specialized music stores such as iTunes. Hardware and software manufacturers, the conglomerates in the music business, as well as producers and distributors are all affected by tech advancements as new technologies can substitute existing music technologies, either causing a shift in power or bringing a considerable profit.
In fact, no recording session, set or personal performance is complete without a combination of mixers, instruments, recorders, speakers and so on. Thanks to this intelligent innovations, new musical styles emerged, such as electronic music, while new instruments made new sounds possible. For instance, the acoustic guitar evolved into electric guitar, which uses pickups. Tech spread its influence with the appearance of electric violins, bass electric and new ways of cutting wood so that instruments could be more resonant.
Besides, music is no longer made by hand, writing on a piece of paper the musical notes and the lyrics. Songwriters use computers and keyboards that can be programmed to produce and play MIDI (Musical Instrument Interface). This means that songs can be created electronically and sequenced, because the computer can memorize the notes of a song and play them back just as they were input. Any musician can afford to have a MIDI and create studio-quality recordings in the comfort of his home.
However, the fast and furious development of technology has a major disadvantage: producers can now replace musicians with canned sounds, which made possible the rise of hip-hop and rap, but also bringing many copyright infringement lawsuits.
In addition, people are no longer either listener or singer. Individuals can interact and become singers. Karaoke devices are now equipped with video screens that show lyrics to songs being performed and Japanese researchers are still studying this device to improve it.
Furthermore, music and technology are all about accessibility. People want to have quick and easy access to everything that’s new, to search a song not only by its title but by audio fingerprints, and to upload. That’s why, Internet service providers and cable companies are trying to put massive catalogs of music and videos on-demand. Mobile networks provide Americans the chance to listen and download music at an amazing speed thanks to the Long Term Evolution network. Streaming music subscriptions services, which allow people listen to millions of songs from an online cloud are just at the beginning. Technology is always in continuous change and its fast transformations drag new possibilities in music as well.