Music and technology have often joined their path to improve the experience of interpreters and listeners and to achieve the highest levels of quality and durability.
Technology in instrumental manufacturing
At present, it is more common to address the advantages of technological development for the musical experience but until relatively recently the main field where music and technology came together was the instrument manufacturing process itself. Thus, the first percussion instruments, from the Neolithic or Mesolithic era (it is difficult to prove the intentionality of creating music), were of remarkable structural simplicity. In the Old Age, the first great development will take place in this regard.
A significant example is found in Classical Greece, with the creation of monochord (with applications not only musical). Also in Ancient Egypt and in the area of Mesopotamian influence there had been considerable refinement before. The middle Ages give continuity to this tradition, with a great string of string instruments (a different evolution will follow in the East). It would be in the Renaissance when the next qualitative leap would take place and in the Baroque when the bulk of the current instruments would emerge.
The pickup of the sounds
If the influence of technology on instrumental manufacturing is evident, the capture and storage of sounds were as much or more revolutionary. The first recording on record dates from 1860, using the phonograph autograph invented by Leon Scott three years earlier. It goes without saying that these were decisive steps but totally alien to mass consumption. Similarly, the quality of the recordings was rather discreet. Until 2008, recordings made by phonographs could not be restored.
The historical relationship between music and technology
In 1877, Edison’s phonograph relatively improved the recording process and laid the groundwork for advances such as the 1888 gramophone. Music would finally reach (some) homes in 1894, with the first physical media playable in gramophones. In the first decades of the s. XX the development would be brilliant, with the double-sided discs of Columbia Records (1923) and the single discs for record players (1949). The popular stereo sound would arrive in 1958 and would serve to popularize the music of artists.
The importance of innovation
If something is clear after analyzing the long process of musical technological improvement such as TME, it is that from a first and extensive stage in which technology tried to meet needs, it has been moved to another marked by the vocation to surprise and innovate. Innovation is the keyword in all this evolution, while the permanent search for better solutions to interpret and disseminate music has achieved that this reach, finally, its universal vocation.
After all, the innovation motivated the launch of the first compact discs in 1978, the support that, despite its slow initial diffusion, managed to bring musical consumption to its maximum expression from the nineties. At present, it is obvious that technologies such as streaming or Internet playback have broken even physical barriers to music playback.
3D printing, virtual concerts,’ playing ‘ music with your hands, the unsuspected limits of electronic or avant-garde music … The advances of recent years are certainly impressive and remind us that what is yet to come is a true mystery.