Technology’s Turn to Play

Turnable 5

Everything is ripe for innovation.  Even those things that were innovated before can now, due to technology be improved upon and have little sensors embedded to generate data and that is our reality.

Somewhere from gramophones to turntables the technology went into a spiral, but even then the horn was replaced by external speakers that went wireless, and a needle still needs to intermittently be replaced, but pretty much the general design is still there.  Going round in circles, and it makes you wonder if the ecosystem that music created, that basic hand cranked record playing machine hasn’t created a sluggish evolution.  That is the music that becomes popular changes the technology that we use to play, and how we listen to the media.  And then it’s all back to what it was, a little bit like musical chairs.

And now it’s all changing again as streaming music lulls us into a false sense of security, away from change that is coming.

Music!  That one word implies so much, it’s cultural and music tells a story, our history.  The human experience in a universal language that most of us can’t speak, because we can’t play the instrument, but we hear it, we listen to the strings quiver, the wails and the horns and we know, we all know classical to work songs, to spiritual hymns to blues, to marching bands to jazz to big bands and ballads to rock-n-roll, rhythm & blues, disco and rap.  We listen in concert halls, auditoriums, dance halls, night clubs, and jazz clubs and in what the French referred to as music libraries- discotheques and inside the four walls of our homes.

The stories sometimes have crossover appeal and even the misquoted linger, because their elemental truth touches us, like the first line of William Congreve’s play: “Music has charms to sooth a savage breast”.

It’s not just technology that’s changing, we’re changing.  Our styles, which is what’s pleasing to us, mostly secular and without tradition aren’t established by laws and policy, but somehow we hear what we like. Music is played and we like it, before we know what we like.    It can be music from a television commercial, theme music or a movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey still delights generations and still plays nicely on vinyl.

In 1948, Columbia records used microgrooves to store sounds and set the tone, literally when every other company followed and we’ve been going round ever since.   Every few decades innovation visits, once it brought with it tape and little plastic wheels, cassettes to 8-tracks to CDs and streaming, and I’m reminded of my Bang-Olufsen linear tracking turntable, but eventually I returned to my Marantz.

Technology sometimes has that affect… Going around in circles and replicable.

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