Sound Recording

9 September 2016

Its History And Impact On Media In The 21st Century On this essay I will try to show how Sound Recording impacts media in the 21st century. But in order for me to do that I will need to explore the history of Sound Recording, which started in the 19th Century. Before 1877 sound could be recorded but not played.

That year Thomas Alva Edison invented the talking tin foil, also known as the phonograph (voice – writer), which enabled sound to be played back (the first speech to be recorded and played back was the poem by Sarah Josepha Hale (1830) ‘Mary had a little lamb’, which, unfortunately “was not preserved, but in 1927, Edison re-enacted the recording for Fox Movietone news. It can be heard on the Recording Technology History web site at http://history. sandiego. edu/gen/recording/mary. html” (John Cosway 2008 – Livin Publishing’s webpage)).

Sound Recording Essay Example

But it had a problem when the tin foil was removed from the machine it would loose its shape making it impossible for sound to be played back again. Along the years technology improved a lot, especially after the First World War. Because of radio improvements as well as records, recording and buying music became cheaper and easier. Radios would use records to fill up airtime and bands and singers would use radio to advertise their songs. That made music palpable to everyone all over the world. So a song recorded in Europe could be heard in the United States of America within months.

But not only music was, now, able to cross oceans it was, also, able to cross classes, meaning that classical music could be heard by poorer classes as well as folkloric music could be heard by richer classes. Edison realized “that what he had arrived at was something else, and in an article for the North American Review in 1878 he suggested a number of uses for the new invention. The article makes curious reading: here is an inventor, aware that the machine he has just created is remarkable but as yet too crude to be practicable, trying to awaken people’s imagination to what it might do: . Letter writing and all kinds of dictation without the aid of a stenographer. 2. Phonographic books, which will speak to blind people without effort on their part. 3. The teaching of elocution. 4. Reproduction of music. 5. The ‘Family Record’ – a registry of saying, reminiscences, etc. , by members of a family in their own voices, and of the last words of a dying person. 6. Music boxes and toys. 7. Clocks that should announce in an articulate speech the time for going home, going to meals, etc. 8.

The preservation of languages by exact reproduction of the manner of pronouncing. 9. Educational purposes; such as preserving the explanations made by a teacher, so that the pupil can refer to them at any moment, and spelling or other lessons placed upon the phonograph for convenience in committing to memory. 10. Connection with the telephone, so as to make that instrument an auxiliary in the transmission of permanent and invaluable records, instead of being the recipient of momentary and fleeting communications. (Gelatt, 1977)” (Chanan, 1995:3)

In 1889 the enterprising manager of the Pacific Phonograph Company decided to put a coin-operated phonograph in a saloon. Although it would only play one song it helped launch the modern music industry. The Pacific Phonograph improved the idea of the coin-operated player piano, music boxes, and other similar technologies by playing back commercially made records. Pacific Phonograph reported that after five months the coin-operated phonograph had generated $1,000. 00, which is very remarkable because every time some one wanted to play the song they would only have to pay five cents. After a few years as novelty items in “phonograph parlours”, low priced home machines began to appear. The top-selling cylinders of the period around 1900 were probably (based on their predominance in catallogs) military bands. Many of these military band recordings were actually dance music, described in catalogs according to the way people were expected to dance to it, e. g. waltzes, polkas, cakewalks, and so on. Yet the most famous leader of such a band, John Philip Sousa, had doubts about the phonograph and publicly denounced recordings as inferior to live music.

Thus began a decades-long campaign against recorded music, sponsored by a succession of music critics, social theorists, and musicians. As one of those social theorists has argued, the real significance of the early phonograph was that it transformed the way people listened to music. Where once music was a unique, live performance, experienced in a public place with a group, now it was heard privately in the home and it was possible to hear the same “performance” over and over. According to this argument, the listening experience was cheapened. Recording History. org(? ) Music was available almost anywhere, any time so people, in theory, would be exposed to a wider selection of music, which, some people believed, would result in a social uplift process.

However in the United States and Europe most people kept buying popular music instead of what reformers called “good” music. ”Good” music started being advertised more heavily, by companies like Victor, Columbia and Edison’s, by offering a wider variety of “good” music in their catalogs. Historians have also countered the argument that the phonograph degraded musical taste by noting that “good” live music was not always readily available to millions of people in nations like the United States, who lived outside major cities. The phonograph provided a link to urban culture good and bad, including the “serious” music preferred by highbrow music critics. However, by the time it was possible to track record sales according to the type of music, it was clear that the public still preferred popular music.

Record companies did nothing to discourage the sale of popular recordings, which largely supported their business. ” Recording History. org(? ) In the 20th century the phonograph played a more important role in mixing races, especially in the United States, where African-Americans were inventing Jazz music but it was usually recorded by white people. This might have been seen as a positive start to create a link between black and white societies. Unfortunately this phenomenon happened at the same time as “coon” and ethnic recordings. Coon” was often seen as comedy and stereotyped black-sounding voices were used to entertain. Nowadays it is hard to listen to them and not find them offensive but back then it probably was. “In fact, it is reasonable to compare these to another popular turn-of-the-century type recording which employed humorous stereotypes of whites-known as “hick” recordings. Modern attitudes about rural whites have not undergone the same transition as those regarding African-Americans, so that today the “hick” stereotype is still socially acceptable.

It is possible that “coon” recordings reflected an analogous type of attitude among the white population. ” Recording History. org(? ) “Economically, musicians began to experience recording as a new and contradictory form of exploitation, in which other people were always making more from records than they did, although the rewards to be gained with success often outstripped all other sources of musical money-making; a process that also changed the shape of music publishing and the entertainment business. (Chanan, 1995:7). Today music artists are super stars, they have paparazzi following them 24/7, because people at home want to know every little aspect of their lives. If an artist wants to know how successful they are all they need to do is count how many paparazzi are following them. Sound recording also has a major part in our daily lives, probably more than we realize.

All ten of the suggestions that Edison gave in the article, The Fabulous Phonograph 1877-1977, by Roland Gelatt are being used today: our lives depend on the answering machine or the digital voicemail; we not only have audio books but we also have audio description (a service provided by some networks to describe the scenes being shown so people, that are blind or can’t see very well, can enjoy the program as well as any one else); we are able to learn a foreign language by repeating after a CD or MP3 file; among many others. Another use for Sound Recording is surveillance.

The ‘surveillance society’ “has been developing for many decades, aided by new technologies. Wiretapping, for example, began as early as the U. S. Civil War, when both sides tapped into the other force’s telegraph lines and simply copied down the messages. (… ) Today the use of audio surveillance is arguably a minor issue compared to the massive use of video and internet surveillance. However, it is important to remember the deep roots that the surveillance has in our history. What is being done with technology today is not different in principle to what was done a century ago, but today it is undeniably more sophisticated. Recording History. org (? ) On August 17, 1982 the first Compact Disc (also known as CD) was launched and the first title to be released was The Visitors (1981) by Abba. Sony’s CD player reached the market on October 1, 1982 in Japan and early the following year in the United States of America and other markets. “This event is often seen as the “Big Bang” of the digital audio revolution. The new audio disc was enthusiastically received, especially in the early-adopting classical music and audiophile communities and its handling quality received particular praise.

As the price of players sank rapidly, the CD began to gain popularity in the larger popular and rock music markets. The first artist to sell a million copies on CD was Dire Straits, with their 1985 album Brothers in Arms . In 1986 Queen became the first artist to have their entire catalogue converted to the format. ” Wikipedia (2008) “The CD was originally thought of as an evolution of the gramophone record, rather than primarily as a data storage medium. Only later did the concept of an “audio file” arise, and the generalizing of this to any data file.

From its origins as a music format, Compact Disc has grown to encompass other applications. In June 1985, the CD-ROM (read-only memory) and, in 1990, CD-Recordable were introduced, developed by Sony and Philips. ” Wikipedia (2008) MTV (Music Television) was launched on August 1st, 1981. The producers Alan Goodman and Fred Seibert decided to play the MTV theme song over a montage of the Apollo 11 moon landing, associating the launching of MTV with the most famous moment in world television history. Thanks to MTV a very firm commercial interdependence of music, dance, film, and computer graphics was established.

With the advances in digital technologies in the 1990’s such as MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) and digital sequencing, solitary musicians can add to the music a full spectrum of instruments simultaneously. For example “Rap music highlights the increased use of appropriated and re-contextualized audio material, which is facilitated by digital sampling. ” Intekom (1994-99). Also, multimedia production tools became extremely easy to use, especially since both video and audio information can be stored digitally, “mixing them becomes more seamlessly natural.

Desktop artists and hobbyists of moderate means can now manipulate digital material with the same technical precision that recently required expensive studio equipment and substantially more time. Internet enthusiasts on different continents can collaborate on multimedia creations. ” Intekom (1994-99). The latest technology in Sound Recording was launched on a “rented auditorium near Apple’s corporate campus in Cupertino. The audience – and the rest of the computer industry – was shocked by the product (iPod). No one grasped the importance of the device to Apple and the music industry in eneral until much later. Many reacted to the product with hostility, with criticisms that ranged from its $400 price to the scroll wheel and its lack of Windows compatibility. ” Low End Mac (2007). When the iPod was released in Europe it had a much more enthusiastic reception. As the popularity of the iPod grew a whole ecosystem started to be created around it. In 2003 when Apple launched the iTunes store they revolutionized the music industry. Now anyone can download music, legally, within seconds of its release, at the store, anywhere in the world.

They also offer another service called Podcast (a series of digital media files distributed over the internet using syndication feeds for playback on portable media players and computers. ), which allows people to put an interview or a debate or even their own opinion available on the Internet (it is even possible to have shows that are only released in Podcast). iTunes also sells films that can be downloaded into and played in an iPod giving us the possibility to watch films from all around the world. All the advances in the Sound Recording area allows different cultures to merge e. g. e find Brazilian musicians playing Brazilian rap and Americans playing samba. “So what would Thomas Edison have to say about all of the recording advances in the 130 years since his tin foil breakthrough?

Perhaps, he would ask how to upload Mary Had a Little Lamb to his spiffy new iPod. ” Cosway, (2008) Unfortunately I can’t include all the aspects that I wanted but I hope the ones I did include explains in general the evolution and the importance of Sound Recording. Bellow I added a summary of the History of Sound Recording. NOTES: Summary Of Main Events In The History Of Sound Recording 1877 Thomas Alva Edison applied for the US Patent 200 521 which covered talking machines and sound writers to be known as Phonographs. The first phonographs used tin foil cylinders. 1886 Edison was granted US patent 341 214 for a wax coated recording cylinder. This signified the beginning of the end of the tin foil coated cylinder. 1889 Coin-in-the slot public access replay facilities, a primitive form of juke box, which could be used in amusement arcades, became immensely popular in the US creating a demand for entertainment recordings, mainly comic monologues. 903 The first 12 inch diameter records were released on the Monarch label. HMV Italiana released Verdi’s ‘Ernani’ on 40 single sided discs. 1906

The Victor Company’s Victrola model gramophone first appeared. Victrola was to become a generic term. 1925 The first ‘electrical’ recordings were issued by Victor and Colombia in the US. 1931 Alan Dower Blumlein (EMI) was granted a patent for a stereo recording technique that provided the basis for present day techniques. 1934 BASF manufactured 50,000 metres of magnetic recording tape for use by AEG for large scale experiments. 936 BASF engineers, using a Magnetophon, recorded Mozart’s Symphony No. 39 with the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham. The first tape recording of a full symphony orchestra, it still exists and is of surprisingly good quality. 1941 Leopold Stokowski conducted the recording sessions for the soundtrack of the Walt Disney film ‘Fantasia’. 1952 Cinerama presented multi sound track replay to the public for the first time. 1956 Stereo LPs became available and new releases were issued in both mono (monaural) and stereo (stereophonic) versions.

The Philips original cast recordings of ‘My Fair Lady’ was one of the first million seller LPs. 1965 Pre-recorded Musicassettes were released. 1966 Dr Ray Dolby introduced the Dolby Noise Reduction System. 1975 Computer memory was added to studio equipment. 1979 Sony introduced the Walkman 1982 Compact Disc (CD) hardware and software was launched in Japan. 1989 the CD accounted for over 200 million units and the LP was beginning to disappear from record stores. 1989 DAT was introduced by Sony in the US. 1992 Sony introduced MiniDisc (MD). 1996 The first DVD (Digital Versatile Disc) product was shown. 997 Elton John’s tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales, “Candle in the Wind 1997” became the fastest selling single ever and was certified 8 times platinum by the RIAA within 24 hours of release. 1998 Music piracy on the Internet, using the MP3 format, became a cult activity. ” Team One of Sociology (2000) 2001 Apple Inc. launches the ‘iPod’, a device that stores digital music in such formats as MP3 and ACC. 2003 Apple Inc. launches the iTunes store, which establishes the model of selling individual songs and films for purchase.

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