Music has been produced by people since the dawn of time – in fact, the first musical instruments are believed to be about 4,000 years old, and researchers point out that vocal music likely originated long before that.
But technology in the modern age – namely listening and recording equipment – means a whole new world of music that continues to evolve. Not only does this mean the people are finding new ways to make music, but also new ways to deliver it, notes Cantor Benny Rogosnitzky of Park East Synagogue, who also happens to have education from the Royal Manchester School of Music and Art.
More Portable Studios:
Not long ago, if you wanted to produce a record, it generally meant having a band present at a well-equipped studio for live mixing. But thanks to technology, it's easier for music makers to record individual tracks and then mix them on their own using music editing software that takes away some of the need for mixing engineers.
The physical size of equipment for mixing and recording has reduced, and become a lot more affordable to the average person, meaning it's more practical for a band to record their own album in a basement, or for someone to create their own music from the comfort of their own home. Many of these amateur musicians are skipping the traditional routes to get their music out there (such as playing live shows at the local pub) and producing their own music and videos for sites like YouTube. In fact, a number of now-successful musicians got their start on social media, using their home as a recording venue.
Technology Can Replicate Musical Instruments:
Up until the 80s, all of the instruments you heard on a recording - and live - were actual people playing them. However, the rise of synthesizers in the 1980's that emulate various instruments such as piano and drums means that many of the sounds, we hear in modern music are artificially produced.
This means that the possible imperfections or mistakes made by a musician during a performance can be avoided if electronic equipment is used in place of live players. Cantor Benny Rogosnitzky notes that it is not limited to instruments – technology has also fairly recently introduced auto-tuning, which corrects the pitch of a singer to hide any miscues or even missed notes during a performance. And, of course, in some cases, a singer belting out a tune at a concert might not be singing at all.
The Structure of Music Is Evolving:
Gone perhaps are the 11-minute songs from the Classic Rock era that started with a lot of musical buildup before a vocal was even delivered. This is largely because of the ways musicians make money in the industry nowadays, notes Cantor Benny Rogosnitzky.
Technological shifts means fewer people are getting their music from records (although the vinyl trend continues) and radio play. Currently the most popular form of music consumption is through streaming services such as Spotify. However, the artists don't get paid per play unless their song is played for a certain length of time by a listener. So, music producers are making sure a "hook" is included early in the song for recognition, ensuring a higher chance of earning royalties.
The Way Music Is Delivered Is Changing:
Picture a "phonograph" parlor in the 1890s, where people would gather and listen to the music of their choice. That was possibly the only option for those who wanted to hear a phonograph record, unless they happened to be lucky enough to have a player at home.
Of course, the early 1900's saw music being delivered over the airwaves for the first time to homes, which has continuously improved in quality. Recording media such as tapes and CDs revolutionized how portable music can be, allowing people to listen to music while wearing the technology.
However, with the MP3 file format and now streaming services, it could be argued that the quality of the audio has suffered compared to more traditional records. This is due to the fact that many popular music-streaming services compress digital formats to save space and bandwidth.
Listen Closely to The Future:
Cantor Benny Rogosnitzky keeps his ear open for any new developments that affect how music is produced and delivered. He notes some predictions see virtual-reality music videos becoming the norm, and artificial intelligence playing a bigger role in "writing" songs.
While technology continues to evolve, so too will music production and audience expectations, he adds.