Musical expression is one of the oldest art forms known to mankind. Music is often considered to come from within the soul and lyrics have been written down and performed for centuries. Some songs are historic and passed down from one generation to the next. Even nursery rhymes, like “London Bridge is Falling Down” and “Ring Around the Rosy” have long histories and have survived solely because one generation chose to share them with the next. Music in general has a very interesting past with every single genre having originated from another musical form. Instruments have been used to aid music for eons and have influenced new developments in sound (for example, harps are known to date back hundreds of years and probably were the design basis for modern day guitars). Although music has remained largely unchanged for centuries, there are certain ways that modern day technology can play a role to help improve music and the overall experience of listening to music. Below is a list of three kinds of music that have been most influenced by technological progression.
Opera is an ancient musical form and it would normally be considered one of the last genres that anyone would think could possibly be changed by technology, yet technology has done wonderful things for the opera. Opera singers are famous for their loud booming voices that can carry long distances and go in either very high or very low ranges. Opera singers provided their own acoustics for centuries and, although modern day opera houses are well set up sound wise, it is not in sound systems that technology most helped operas. Instead, technology has made opera more interesting and accessible to people. For one thing, technology has enabled opera sets to be far more fantastic than they once were. Secondly, formats like television and the Internet have made it easier for people to watch operas that are aired on TV or occasionally presented on YouTube. MTV even tried to popularize operas in 2001 when they came out with “Carmen: A Hip-Hopera,” a modern day hip-hop inspired look at the classic opera “Carmen.” Starring Beyonce, the piece was an attempt to get youth culture interested in the opera. Although most opera lovers are still highly educated and well-to-do adults, the avenues that technology offers opera in regard to mainstream media cannot be ignored and serve to help popularize this ancient art form.
Popular music, usually referred to as “pop,” changes over time. For example, in the 1960s pop music consisted of doo-wop bands and “The Beatles.” Presently, “pop music” usually comes in the form of superstars like Justin Bieber and other such teen sensations. Popular music changes and so do the sounds associated with it but the overall popularity of the music—and the legions of fans it creates—never ceases. Technology has done much for pop music over the years, especially in the ability to trump up singers voices and make the background beats catchier than they would normally be. Pop music has also been greatly popularized due to innovations like MTV (that aired nothing but music videos in the 1980s and early 1990s) portable radios and, nowadays, iPods and the Internet. Technology has also made pop concerts elaborate extravaganzas involving lots of lights and polytechnics. Overall, without progress in technology pop music would not be the multi-billion dollar industry is presently is.
Of all the musical genres in the world none rely as heavily on technology as techno—which literally exists due to technology and derives its name from it. Although most forms of music strive to improve their sound with technology they do so in a fleeting and somewhat disguised way. Contrarily, techno music happily embraces technology as being the basis for all song sounds. Early examples of techno as a genre can be found in 1980s and 1990s “house music” that relied on technology for their beats. As time went on raves and other underground disco/party scenes created a cult following for music that was fast paced and easy to dance to without necessarily including any vocals. Techno music is hugely popular in countries across the world and as global formats like YouTube and satellite radio gain status in mainstream culture it is likely that techno music will gain even more fans in the near future.