Issue #9 – Music to your Ears

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Music changes from one generation to th
next and so does the way we listen to it. The
format in which the music is recorded, the
devices we use to play music and overall
accessibility to music has gone through many
changes. From the phonograph to CD’s and
MP3’s technology has changed the role music
plays in our lives.
The phonograph enabled families to listen
to music in the home. These early recordings
were in cylinder format and were widely used
until the introduction of disc format which
was more convenient and easier to play.
The earliest discs were made of shellac and
played on a gramophone and were referred
to as 78’s because that was the speed at
which they were played. While they did sound
better than the cylinder format they still had a
noisy, scratchy sound. In the 1950’s 78’s were
phased out and 33’s and 45’s made of vinyl
were the new way to listen to music using
the modern record player. The use of 45’s in
jukeboxes was especially popular. Although
this new format was much less expensive and
made music more accessible to the masses it
was not portable and as a result people could
only listen at home or at public gatherings.
Records also scratched easily, lost quality the
more they were played, and would warp if not
stored correctly.
The next big change was in the introduction of magnetic tape, first 8 track and then cassette. 8 track and cassette were highly popular because of their portability and the fact it was easier to choose what songs you wanted to hear. With cassettes you could even create your own personal play list. But tapes wore out the more they were played as well and also tended to stretch which distorted the sound.
In the late 80’s the CD became the preferred way to tune in. The sound quality was much better than previous methods, was more
portable, and easier to store. But like records, CD’s can easily be scratched. And while CD’s are still the most common format for producing music we can now store that music on mp3 players allowing us to take our entire music collection where ever we go.

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