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Technology In 20th And 21st Century Music

3807 words - 15 pages

Introduction------------The introduction of electronic technology - including the computer -has revolutionised the way we think, do business, socialise and,possibly most of all, the way we listen to and make music. From thehumble tape recorder that was used in the 1950s up until the early1990s, to the state-of-the-art digital mixing desks used in majorrecording studios and live performances, electronic technology hasgreatly influenced both todays live and studio environments. In thisessay, I will examine the pioneers of the age of electronicinstruments, focusing on Robert Moog and Leon Theremin, who developedfirst synthesisers through Les Paul (better known as a legendaryguitarist), who first discovered the benefits of multi-track taperecording, up to the automated German band Kraftwerk. The theory ofthe synthesiser and its many uses will also be discussed, as well asboth the early and modern commercial applications of the technologythat ranges from the Minimoog (the first portable synthesiser), toSteinberg Cubase and Emagic Logic (two of the leading music computerprograms available). I will conclude the essay with the question 'Haselectronic technology degraded the state of live music in performanceover the past fifty years?'The post-war era of the 1960's was a time when advances in technologywere being made at an alarming rate. Never before had there been suchan outbreak of new equipment. The world economy was also improving,benefiting from the post-war boom. With the introduction of passengerair travel, the world was also shrinking rapidly. Before the digitalrevolution of the late 20th century, live rock 'n' roll music wasrapidly gaining popularity, with Elvis Presley in prime form in themid 1950's. The electric guitar had made its debut some twenty yearsearlier, but only now was it realising its potential.The number of artists utilising technology in today's music market isastonishing. Harnessing new and existing technology means that soundscan be manipulated and used in ways that make it possible for one manto play as a whole orchestra, or one singer to sound like a churchchoir. Artists such as the German group Kraftwerk are an entirelyautomated band, using sounds such as car horns in a song titledAutobahn. The 1980's band The Eurythmics consists of just two people:a singer (Annie Lennox) and a keyboard player (Dave Stewart).Together, these two musicians can perform songs that would normallytake five or more people to perform on-stage.The Pioneers of the Electronic AgeAnybody who makes or even enjoys listening to recorded sound isindebted to Thomas Edison, who in December 1877 invented the firstrecord/playback machine. The machine worked by transferring sound ontotin foil on a revolving cylinder. This was done via a diaphragm andstylus. To play back the sound, a second stylus would read theindentations on the foil and vibrate its own diaphragm to produce thesound. Within twelve years of Edison filing his new invention with thePatent Office...

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