From the early 20th century, people have listened to music using a record player device, i.e. the music is recorded first. Improvements in technology led to the design of the cassette tape, followed by vinyl discs and finally Compact Disc (CD). Modern technology has made it possible to store music in flash memory devices.
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Advancements in technology in the music industry have led to a corresponding improvement in technology used for producing music. The switch from traditional to modern technology has led to a debate on whether the quality of music that record players had has been lost.
Pundits argue that the music, like all other aspects of our daily life, must keep pace with technology while others argue that this has led to loss of quality that used to be available in analogue music systems. This debate is not likely to be resolved in the near future.
It is more important for a producer today to know technology than music
Advancements in technology have led man to invent music production techniques that require technical knowhow, a producer must first learn about these techniques in order to be successful. Success here means selling millions of copies of music and coping with cutthroat competition that has characterized today’s music industry.
However, in order to determine whether quality in music is lost in using modern technology, we need to compare analogue and digital music production systems that many claim to be the cause of the deterioration in music quality over the years.
Analogue vs. Digital Production Tools
In analogue systems, the sound waves are cut out into a vinyl surface, to retrieve audio from the record player, a needle off the player vibrates, and the sound enlarged by the speakers. Therefore, the sound produces is associated with the original sound recorded and every sound is generated wholly.
In digital systems, the sound is translated into a series of numbers. The lens on a disc player reads the numbers and converts then into sound. The sound produced is not the actual representation of the music (Hatschek, para. 3).
Technology vs. Quality
As we have seen, modern technology has led to the distortion of music, unfortunately, markets are in demand of music produced using modern technology. In the earlier days, we used to listen to music using record players, but we swapped better sound for expediency for both recording and listening.
Technology in music production definitely has its merits. For example, it is possible to rectify any minor error by selecting the bad portion and correcting it. However, if the mistake came from the artist, the producer would not have to repeat the whole record, he could just record over the audio.
However, Robert DiFazio, a music producer, explains that this procedure lowers the artists’ capabilities (DiFazio, para. 3). A good producer will want to go over the whole recording process, similar to the analogue era, while a producer who banks on technology will only repair the sections with mistakes.
Trends in listening to music have changed over time. In the earlier days, people used to listen not only to music, but also to the percussions and any other accompaniments. It was easy to distinguish the different sounds coming out of a music record, such as the bass guitar or a piano (Ward, para. 4).
Today’s generation does not take care of any of these; rather, we dwell so much on technologies such as the vocoder and synthesized sounds at the expense of quality. Therefore, music producers are only responding to the market demands, i.e. market needs dictate how producers make their music, failure of which they will lack a competitive advantage and could cease operations.
In short, the music market no longer takes into consideration matters of quality in music, and with albums being released every day, nobody really stops to consider other elements of music other than the most audible components.
As we have seen, technology is more important than music in today’s music production industry. In fact, producers use technology to make corrections on pieces of music that do not come out as required rather than look at the origin of the fault. DiFazio concludes by saying, “people don’t care what it sounds like, the average audience doesn’t care what it sounds like. It’s been proved…” (DiFazio, para. 7)
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Effects on music now and in the Future
One of the negative sides of technology in music production is the loss of quality. besides, there is the aspect of loss of live music. Knowledge of music demands that a producer be conversant with most musical instruments in use, however, technology has made it possible to produce synthetic beats from computer programs and this has reduced our interaction with live music.
Just recently, we made our own music, whether in the church, cultural functions, or in social events, this has disappeared with the rise of the digital technology. I can boldly add, merely 50 years ago, a far superior fraction of the populace played a musical instrument unlike in our day.
DiFazio, Robert. How Analog and Digital Recording Techniques Influence the Recording Process. 2007. Web.
Hatschek, Keith. Are Dynamics dead in popular music? 2009. Web.
Ward, Dick. As Technology Advances, Demand for Quality Sound Decreases. 2010. Web.