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Music Production: History and Changes Research Paper


Introduction

The birth of the music industry happened about a century ago during the time technological innovations started to appear allowing to capture, store of music, and replay the sound tracks within a retrieval system.1 Over time, the music industry experienced and adjusted to the numerous technological advances that caused these changes. Sound technologies developed from mono to hi-fidelity stereo, recently to Dolby type surround sound track. Due to these transitions the music industry have always attempted to adapt to these technological changes caused by newer demand for greater music experience.2 The technological progress gradually led to the appearance of music sampling – the technology of sound transforming, that changed the approach towards contemporary music and raised multiple legal, ethical, philosophical and cultural arguments and debates.

Earliest forms of music production

1850 was marked as the year when sound was first recorded by a French investor and physicist Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville, a man who is also accredited with the technology that witnessed sound waves representation on paper.3 His phonautograph technology, which happened to be one of his most cherished innovations, shaped sound recording for the period of 1850s, and spanning over to the 21st century. Developments in sound technology according to Christoph and Warner, reached its peak with the first reproduction of sound in 1877 by Thomas Edison.4 Edison worked on the earlier inventions of Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville trying to develop his sound model further. Edison brought new and fresh meaning to the early achievements in the field of sound technology, especially in 1888, when he mechanically transformed sound waves into sound vibrations using a foil cylinder to magnify sound tracks.5

The metamorphosis of sound recording technology came along with a consortium of materials and instrumentations of great, yet diverse historical significance. Among the things, which championed the rapid development in sound recording technology according to “5 Suggestions for Sample-Based Producers, there was the need to record important musical concerts, performances of poets and writers.6

According to Christoph and Warner, the field of sound recording was reinforced by linguistics and socio-cultural and anthropological studies. The most ipotant public addresses made by historical persons such as Winston Churchill, Queen Victoria, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt inspired early physicists to develop sound recording gadgets to preserve such significant messages.7 In addition, early monitoring techniques designed to improve government intelligence also necessitated the need to invest in this field. However, early tests and experiments, which were usually proving positive, might have been the ultimate inspiration for development in this field.8

Magnetic sound recording

The 19th century was a representation of a quintessential period characterized by Smith’s invention.9 Smith is accredited with the invention of forges, racket tools and the metal press. He believed in the evolution of science and wanted others to develop his ideas and continue his projects. In 1896, a Danish scientist working in the sphere of electrical engineering Valdemar Poulsen developed the first magnetic recording implement ever known, which was called the “telegraphone”.10 The invention of this device was a great achievement, the world met it with a lot of enthusiasm, and this was witnessed at the 1900 Paris World Exhibition in France. Poulsen’s inventions came before the introduction of the vacuum tube; so essentially, they missed amplification and playback.11 Due to the fact that the devices lacked the power to sway the masses, especially because of their poor sound resonating capacity, the business community never found their usefulness.

Magnetic tape

Edison, the architect of Cylinders later came up with Edison Disc Record, a gadget that had the ability of shaping the sound, became the recording revolution of the 20th century. This invention is highly regarded to have been the most popular product for the sound consumer customers for the period between 1910 and 1950.12

It is widely a well known fact that the invention of magnetic tape changed the spheres of radio and sound recording industry. Magnetic tape was incredibly useful, especially for the radio industry, it simplified the processes of pre-recording of sound bites used widely in the field of advertisement, where previously a live program was employed. Impressive innovations such as tape echo and multi-tracking were used extensively to enrich radio programs and voice-overs in a way that such items could be re-produced before the actual presentation.

During the 1980s among the most popular recording tools were vinyl records, which were popular mainly for their listening and compatibility formats.13 In mid 1980s the LPs entered the music industry with a big bang and they accounted for nearly 60 percent of retail sales in the music industry against the cassettes, which compiled a paltry 30 percent in most of the American and European markets. However, with the advent of the modern digital sound revolution, the landscape of music recording has shifted drastically giving way to Compact Discs (CDs) in the early 1990s. Compact discs became the technology that thrilled the world like no other invention had ever done before.14

Digital sound technology embraced the digital recording, which enabled the conversion of sound tracks into a stream of digits; primarily the logic behind this technology was its rare ability to decode sound from an analogue format into the digital format. The DVD Rom-Digital Versatile Disk (DVD) provided greater fidelity than CD, which was prone to scratches and wrapping leading to poor sound quality.15

Music performance and production

Over the years, many technical changes in the music recording industry have shaped up and transformed the manner, in which music is performed and produced.16 The fundamental factor that has championed the raging prospects of digital technologies has been harnessed by the 1981 invention of the Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI). The MIDI System has passed out as powerful communication phenomenon that enabled a single computer to decode sound signals to other compatible gadgets like a sequencer or a synthesizer. Compared to other pioneering techniques of music and sound production such as those demonstrated in the early 1900s, the invention of MIDI has opened a new chapter in the manipulation and the experimentation of sound systems.17 Homer argues that with advancements in sound recording technology and music software like Pro-Tools and Cakewalk were used to magnify the possibilities for many artists in the music industry.18

This is a part of an acknowledgement of the fact that developments in the computer technology are expected to further have a remarkable contribution on electronic music production.19 These innovations and digital enhancements will bring the technology of music production to a completely new level. They have the capacity to cause drastic changes in the history of music and become the reason of great paradigm shifts that will continuously displace the traditional studio in a way that potentially may seem to negate the need for sound technicians such as expert producers and engineers. The modern technologies have changed the structure of music making industry and the skills and professions needed there. With these technological advancements it is expected that music production will become more digitalized cheap and common.

The digital revolution

The dawn of the digital revolution in sound recording technology has not only transformed the perception with which music is experienced, but also the way music is produced and distributed globally. Today, people around the world have been enabled to order, listen and download their favorite music items from the internet with minimal ease.20 Music became more available and accessible. These download technologies have further enabled the widespread use of the MP3 and MP4 sound files that can be stored in a retrieval in personal computers system and be played onto compatible MP3/4 players. An off-shoot of the third generation, these technologies have the potentials for allowing the web distribution of pieces of music, through the internet or via the Bluetooth, thus making the music industry to be a great thrill to both arts and science.21

The new age technologies have made it possible to easily transfer music from one carrier to another. They also made it possible to record, transform and replay the melodies. This approach to making music is called sampling. The technology of sampling brought irreversible changes to the whole idea of music production.

Clearly, the digitalization of music together with the internet and new technologies has finally opened a new chapter in the music industry. The adoption of an archetypical utilitarian structure, enhanced with theoretical artistic components suggests that new technological practices affect greatly how music is made in the modern-day society.22

The internet essentially has changed the way people behave across the board in several ways. Internet is all-consuming these days. Internet stores masses of content and information and makes it very easy for anyone to “borrow” someone else’s music and put it through the process of sampling. The result of such manipulation normally is a completely new melody or a composition. The original melody that served as a base will be hard of even impossible to recognize. One thing is very particular in the area – consumers now have access to a great volume of information, as a result they no longer need to rely solely on the music media in the concept that whatever is new or seeking the opinions on the latest works of art is usually sought after. To a considerable degree, websites that offer all-inclusive information and content on music have so far replaced the printed media.23

Generally, sampling of the music itself that used to be possible through the radio, television, or cassette lifts is now commonplace on most music platforms while the internet stores selling music content has been impressive in the process.

Cultural orientation

The basis of music production is the ability to explore and experience it in a way that helps us to know and act better in the world around us.24 The public attitude towards music has always been picturing is as something magical, empowering, even spiritual. Music is seen as an ephemeral substance that can penetrate people’s hearts, influence the moods, help with decisions making and stress. The appearance of digital and sampled music has changed this attitude and created ethical arguments in the masses of listeners and fans of different generations. Traditional perception of music as a living substance was altered. Music created by means of fragmentation and filing, recording and scanning was no longer considered pure and genuine by the admirers of live music and the traditional sounding.

Besides, the sounding of electronic and digitally created and enhanced music is very different from the traditional and classic melodies. The arguments between the fans of classical sounding and the new age creations are never-ending. There is no right or wrong opinion in these debates, this is why people will never stop discussing this subject and arguing about their preferences and the approaches towards music. The most typical point of view of the fans of classical live music is that digital melodies lack the spark that makes them living substances, the so-called soul.

Popular music, therefore, binds individuals and practices together, thus influencing the identities of people. This is why it is impossible to state that modern music created by means of the technology of sampling does not have the capacity of touching people’s hearts. Electronic, digital and sampled music keeps having very strong influence on its audience; there are millions of fans of each of the modern music genres. Music industry has definitely started to use more technologies in its work process, but it did not lose its popularity. Sampling helped create more genres, multiply the influences and produce a variety of new styles and soundings that are impressive and worth listening.

Sampling

Sampling is the result of all the metamorphoses the music history has been through over the centuries and generations. The innovations in the spheres of recording, digitalization and fragmentation resulted in modern sampling. The technology of sampling is the latest breakthrough in the field of music industry and the processes of music production. Sampling is the peak of modern innovative inventions and technological progress in the sphere of music.

Sampling technology works only with digital sounds. Yet, these sounds are not synthesized, they create natural melodies. The process of sampling allows a music producer to write and create very diverse musical compositions without having an orchestra or a band involved. The sampler contains all the necessary sounds and allows the produces to perform all kinds of transformations and changes throughout the melody.

As soon as this process started to be widely used, it caused many discussions. From the ethical point of view there are opinions that the music created by means of sampling is artificial and cannot be compared to music played live by actual musicians. From the legal point of view there are many conflicts because samples of famous musicians can be used and re-arranged by others, which basically means that the original melody is stolen. Plagiarism is judged all around the world, yet it is a well known fact that the sampling technology provides anyone with an opportunity to transform somebody else’s works and sell them as original and new. The modified tracks and pieces are incredibly hard to identify, and the cases of plagiarism are hard to investigate because the internet provides limitless resources for every music producer.

Another argument discusses if the producers of sample and digital music generated by a machine should be considered as real composers or musicians. There is a common opinion that it no longer takes much effort to create music, because in present days it is done by means of pressing buttons on the computers and recording. The philosophical part of this issue is that the music is viewed as a living substance that is being replaced by a robotic and computerized version, soulless and mechanical.

Conclusion

The technology of sampling is highly popular these days. Many of its sides and aspects are being argued about every day. The legal issues caused by sampling of original melodies and committing acts of plagiarism are very difficult to take under control because of high availability of music content in the internet. The technology of sampling has its bad and good sides. Sampled music is popular, the modern technology of music production allows many opportunities of self-expression for young and inventive people. It creates new soundings and genres, develops the history of music. Sampling has brought the contemporary music to the new level.

Bibliography

”. Doandroidsdance. 2013. Web.

Burns, Charlene. “Our Gods are monsters: Popular cultural representations of the evolution of religion”, (2014): 1-14. Web.

Cox, Christoph, Daniel Warner. “Audio Culture: Readings in modern music”. Continuum, (2004): 155-454. Web.

Homer, Matthew. “Beyond the Studio: The Impact of Home Recording Technologies on Music Creation and Consumption”, Nebula 6, no. 3 (2009): 85-99. Web.

Mihir, Parikh. “The music industry in the digital world: Waves of changes”. Institute for Technology & Enterprise, (1999): 1-9. Web.

Motley, Carol & Rosa Henderson. “The global hip-hop diaspora: Understanding the culture.” Journal of Business Research 61, no. 14 (2008): 176-196. Web.

Patokos, Tassos. “A new era for the music industry: How new technologies and the internet affect the way music is valued and have an impact on output quality.” Panoeconomicus 2, no. 3 (2008): 233-248. Web.

Persson, Sarata. “Technology, society, industry, and music production: The changing roles of the record producer and the recording engineer since 1970s”. Lulea University of Technology, Music and Media 139 (2006):1-56. Web.

Footnotes

  1. Patokos Tassos. “A new era for the music industry: How new technologies and the internet affect the way music is valued and have an impact on output quality”, Panoeconomicus 55, no. 2 (2008): 233-248.
  2. Parikh Mihir. “The music industry in the digital world: Waves of changes. Institute for Technology & Enterprise, (1999): 1-9.
  3. “5 Suggestions for Sample-Based Producers”. Doandroidsdance. 2013. Web.
  4. Christoph Cox, Daniel Warner. Audio Culture: Readings in modern music, (New York: Continuum, 2004): 155-454.
  5. “5 Suggestions for Sample-Based Producers” Doandroidsdance. 2013. Web.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. “5 Suggestions for Sample-Based Producers” Doandroidsdance. 2013. Web.
  9. Matthew Homer. “Beyond the Studio: The Impact of Home Recording Technologies on Music Creation and Consumption”, Nebula 6, no. 3 (2009): 85-99.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Sarata Persson. Technology, “Society, Industry and Music Production: The changing roles of the Record Producer and the Recording Engineer since 1970s”, Lulea University of Technology, Music and Media, 139 (2006): 1-56.
  12. “5 Suggestions for Sample-Based Producers”. Doandroidsdance. 2013. Web.
  13. “5 Suggestions for Sample-Based Producers”. Doandroidsdance. 2013. Web.
  14. Sarata Persson. Technology, “Society, Industry and Music Production: The changing roles of the Record Producer and the Recording Engineer since 1970s”, Lulea University of Technology, Music and Media, 139 (2006): 1-56.
  15. Ibid.
  16. Sarata Persson. Technology, “Society, Industry and Music Production: The changing roles of the Record Producer and the Recording Engineer since 1970s”, Lulea University of Technology, Music and Media, 139 (2006): 1-56.
  17. “5 Suggestions for Sample-Based Producers”. Doandroidsdance. 2013. Web.
  18. Matthew Homer. “Beyond the Studio: The Impact of Home Recording Technologies on Music Creation and Consumption”, Nebula 6, no. 3 (2009): 85-99.
  19. Matthew Homer. “Beyond the Studio: The Impact of Home Recording Technologies on Music Creation and Consumption”, Nebula 6, no. 3 (2009): 85-99.
  20. Ibid.
  21. Ibid.
  22. Matthew Homer. “Beyond the Studio: The Impact of Home Recording Technologies on Music Creation and Consumption”, Nebula 6, no. 3 (2009): 85-99.
  23. Patokos Tassos. “A new era for the music industry: How new technologies and the internet affect the way music is valued and have an impact on output quality”, Panoeconomicus 55, no. 2 (2008): 238-248.
  24. Charlene Burns. “Our Gods are Monsters: Popular cultural representations of the evolution of religion”, (2014): 1-14.
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