Has the role of music changed with technology?

Music Evolution

*FYI: Every time a playlist is mentioned in this article there will be a Mixably link for it followed by a (YouTube) one if you don't have the app yet (why wouldn't you though?). Enjoy.

Can you imagine living in an age before portable MP3 players? Whether you use an iPod, a smartphone or whatever it may be. Imagine living before not only CD's but vinyl records too. It would suck. Big time. Back in these days you could only listen to music by playing it, or going to concert. Even then you may only listen to your favorite song once or maybe even (gasp) you have no favorite song. No matter how you look at it technology as has drastically changed the role of music over the years, but how exactly?

Cavemen Music

Starting at the very beginning might seem to be a bit boring but believe us it isn't. We can’t pinpoint an exact origin for music but we can know that singing became a common human behavior after the formation of our vocal chords. Before language we used melody and sound to convey our emotions to other humans.This really drives home how much music means to us on a primal level. It’s ingrained in our psyche.

As our civilization became more…civilized and language had developed we started creating instruments separating music from communication (the above picture is one of the first instrument, a bone pipe...try not to laugh). Music became a tribal thing, a way to identify yourself and feel a belonging in your group.

After our society developed into something we could recognize today, people became known for their compositions and ability. They traveled with other musicians playing their pieces for entertainment. Music was an event and now the composers were becoming famous, a new phenomenon. Their names are still common knowledge today (such as Mozart).

Once gramophones and vinyl record players were introduced music evolved once more, this time into a commodity that could be packaged and sold to the masses. For the consumers this was incredible as they were now able to listen to songs more than once and were able to listen to music in a new setting. Completely alone at home. Music at this time was still seen as a primary form of entertainment, whether for relaxing or for maybe a sneaky gramophone and chill. Music was still very much an activity, with it taking center stage, but its descent into background noise had begun.

With the introduction of television we were now able to somewhat experience the live show from the comfort of our living rooms. In fact some of the first major broadcasts were musical performances. Music now became something that could be packaged, marketed and most importantly sold. Superstar artists like The Beatles became possible, artists had finally become global. With this global stage set for artists they were now able to communicate their political messages to world, becoming a new form of mass communication. People identified with the music and felt that primal sense of belonging that is hardwired in their nature.

With tape decks and CD’s people were able to take their music with them and listen to it on the go. Making mundane activities interesting music started to fade into the background, but you still had know what music you wanted to listen too. Someone had to purchase the music before you created your special mix but this would change.

With the explosion of the internet and free file sharing music underwent its biggest loss in value. You could now download whatever you want whenever you want without any risk. Even the legal streaming channels give you access to so much music you no longer create the emotion connection with music that we had in the past. With millions of songs at your fingertips you don’t even need to know who your listening to, and do you even care? Music no longer means what it used to, its not that big of a deal. Artists come and go at the speed of light and no one remembers. Is this what music should be?

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