Music has been changing and developing for thousands of years, each time society changes, so does music. Music is how we express ourselves, it gives us a voice and an escape. It’s a part of us, so it makes sense that it changes as we do.
But in recent decades, the biggest changes have been in technological advances. New recording technology, new musical technology and new listening technology has meant that the way of music has been changed completely.
Technology has changed how we listen to music
The way we listen to music has changed dramatically. Not so long ago, the only way to listen to music would be to watch and listen to it live, and in person. But with the invention of recording technology, we’ve moved gradually from records, to cassettes, to CDs, to music streaming services.
Listening to newly released tracks is no longer as exciting as it has been previously. Rather than the building excitement of buying a record or CD, or even going to see the artist live, we instead just click a link, and listen to the song in a matter of minutes.
But music streaming services do mean that artists can have their music listened to anywhere in the world. Every artist has access to potentially millions of listeners, and even without any marketing tactics, might find new listeners who stumble across their work when searching for other songs, or when listening to ‘radios’ on music streaming services.
It also means though that those that aren’t featured on music streaming services will likely not be able to grow their popularity, regardless of how good they might be, as very few people buy CDs or single tracks anymore, even if they are downloadable.
It’s changed the way music is made
The actual production of music has also been affected. Many artists rely on auto tuning technology, so that any imperfections in their pitch or tone can be instantly corrected. Voices can be made to sound completely different in a recording studio.
The quality of music used to be judged by the artist’s natural talent, but now we see several artists mouthing in concert, as tracks can be played overhead to give a better quality of sound. Rather than a focus on the artist’s ability to perform live, there’s a focus on the image created with dancing and special effects.
Technology is seeing a move away from natural talent in the music industry, and a new focus on the potential of technology. With technology doing a lot of the work for artists, they focus their attention on building an image, rather than practicing a natural talent.
Even musical instruments can be replicated with technology, so that there’s no need for real musicians. This means that tracks can be produced more quickly, and without too many disagreements or mistakes, but it also means that many musicians are now finding themselves out of a job, or having to master more than just music, as more is now expected of them. Artists need to have an understanding of technological effects and music software that can be used to edit their tracks.
It’s created new genres
There are new genres that have been created based solely on the use of technology. Electronic music genres rely on the use of electronic instruments to create sounds and songs that wouldn’t be possible with traditional instruments. Electronica, House, K-Pop, ‘chillstep’ and the likes all involve synthetic sounds and effects, and they’re all becoming increasingly popular.
There’s often a lot of prejudice surrounding these genres of music, especially from those who value more traditional music styles, but then we’ve got to remember that even instruments like the electric guitar (which is widely accepted in most genres now) have come about as a result of technology, much like these genres have.
Technology has also assigned more credit to DJs, who take ordinary songs and create remixes and medleys, using technology to create a fresh outlook on tracks. Whilst DJs were once frowned upon by the music industry, they are now considered artists by many.
Talent in these genres is often judged by the artist’s ability to manipulate sound through the use of technology, and create new synthetic sounds and beats.