The music we listen to is constantly changing. The way we listen to it is changing as well. How have our listening habits changed through the years?
The phonautograph, an early version of the phonograph, was introduced in 1857. It was invention that revolutionized the way people could listen to music. Before then, live music was about the only way it was possible. Later, the radio came into play and music listening took another huge step.
Vinyl records gave way to 8-track tapes which made it possible to mobilize favorite music selections. Until then, the radio was the only way to listen to music in the car or when moving around. Then came the cassette tape which was less bulky and said to be a clearer quality. Cd’s replaced cassette tapes.
The Walkman was basically the first “on the go” option to music. Listeners could take their music on walks and jogs which was something that could not happen before, short of taking a transistor radio along.
Digital music has actually been around for decades. It was basically refined in the mid-sixties to the mid-eighties and was available on compact discs, or CD’s in the late 80’s. Now, digital music is wildly popular with devices like I-phones and computer generated options too. There are lots of platforms that make digital music available like ITunes. Pandora is a popular method for getting digital music on demand too.
We live in an instant and technical world and the way we listen to music is a reflection of the times. MP3 downloads are a way of purchasing and owning the music of choice within minutes. It can then be listened to through devices that are modern versions of the Walkman.
With our personal preference music available with a click, does it mean we are not exposed to music we otherwise would be? Probably. Perhaps that is why there is such a wide array of genre music these days. Musicians can afford to be niche and to cater to a select audience much more than they could in the past.
Digital music on demand, such as the downloading of ITunes, has diminished the need for the middleman like record shop owners and the clerks who work there. They have not disappeared. There will always be those who like a good hard copy and collectors of vinyl as well. But there certainly has been a decline.
We can now listen to music anytime, anywhere. There are those who worry that such is not healthy. Some argue that the hearing itself is in danger with sounds being piped into the ear canal at all times. There are also those who fear the electric currents of such electronics are damaging. And still others say it stunts creativity and conversation. But, there are others who feel that the ability to listen to music most anytime is healthy and healing and has a positive effect on the individual as well as society.
No matter what the verdict is, healthy or not, good or bad, the fact is that music has come a long, long way. It is now possible to listen to what we want when we want and that, my friends, is one thing about music that is not going to change now.