History of Music Essay

A major mark in the 20th century music is the advent of technology and the influences through which developing technology affected music. Advanced technology provided for the ability to offer more effective forms of recording, distributing, and dramatizing music. In relation to the fact that by this time music had expanded beyond the limitation of concerts, the advances in technology provided for a much-required solution for musicians to distribute and reach their audiences at a global scale. Technology advances have since been influencing the manner through which music is distributed, intertwined as a business, and the different styles through which it can be designed and dramatized for more effective quality and attractiveness. Like in the various other industries, technology has played a vital role in the development of music from when music and technology met in time to date. This essay purports to discuss the nature through which advances in technology influenced the development of music in the early 20th century periods prior to 1945 in terms of the style, distribution, and business. It is through these aspects that the current state of music in today’s world can be understood in terms of development evolution over time and the role that technology has played in this influence. This can also be related to the other aspects of the society that have been influenced by the early interaction of music and technology thus offering for a clearer understanding of the modes of social interactions.


Technological Innovation and the Style of Music

The style of music in the 20th century was drastically changed by the manner through which technological innovations interacted with music. During the early 1900s, composers of music were among the first to adopt the use of technological innovation in music. This slowly grew to a state where it became common practice and preference by many composers. As early as the 1930s, renowned music composers such as Olivier Messiaen introduced the use of electronic instruments and other technological inventions into live performances. This brought about a shift from the traditional performances of music to the establishment of live concerts. It is at these times that the aspect of band music became popular in the society. This is because the incorporation of music instruments into live performances required for other individuals who would be playing the music. Resultantly, bands formed as well as solo artists who played the music instruments by themselves. The change of performance style attracted many audiences that resulted in the adoption of open-air concerts. As opposed to the traditional in-house and opera performances of music, there developed the style of holding open-air live performances. These became very popular as they allowed for the accommodation of many people and were considered enjoyable due to nature's freshness. Sadly, however, this marked the beginning of the demise of the value of practice of in-house theatre performances and concerts in the society. Resultantly, today’s music industry in the society holds very limited practices and preferences of classical forms of music performances such as operas and in-house concerts.

In the period culminating to 1940, there developed the aspect of musique concrete. The unique aspect involved was the mutual editing of natural and industrial sounds in the development of a music track. As such, it is during these times that the first music tracks composed of both the natural voice of the musician and industrial sounds was recorded. A renowned individual in musical history who did this is Steve Reich. Steve Reich later used technology to develop a form of music that incorporated the manipulation of tapes of people specking and different forms of instrumentals. Resultantly, it enabled for the diversification of songs into different styles without necessarily having to change the tone and style at which the musician originally recorded it. The same artist through manipulating the sound track and missing it with blues instrumental could not make taking for instance a song sung by an artist in jazz into a blues song. It is through these manipulations with technology that pop music later on developed in the 1950s. During this time, composers of music became the most sought after as they could compose a song through an individual’s personal sound recording by mixing it with customized instrumentals beats and rhythms. In result, the rate and number of music records made during this time hit the highest compared to previous years.

Technological Innovation and Music Distribution

The high music production of these times coincided with the development of the radio era where radio became the primary mode of distribution of music. The UK has acquired wireless telegraphy since the 1800s but its use was limited to naval and security operational communication. Later in 1912, the United States acquired the technology and patented it as their own for choice of distribution and use. In 1919, the radio corporation was mandated with the selling and operation of radio equipments for various investors in the region. By 1921 over 30 radio stations had been granted licenses to independently operate radio stations by the department of commerce. These stations started the broadcasting of pre-recorded popular music versions. Couples with the development and adoption of the radio by consumers, this became the major medium of distributing music. This led to a high rise in the sale of phonograph sales of music records countrywide. It is through this that most artists and composers in the music industry started enjoying proceeds from their music that did not involve live performances at concerts. This formed the main business aspect of music.

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Technological Innovation and Music Business

Recorded music technologies come about later on in the 1950s. As such, in the period before 1945, the main business angle of music was through live performances, the radio stations, and the sale of music phonograph sales. Music performances changed in the fact that through technology live performances with music instruments was made possible and concerts became diversified to include various aspects such as open-air concerts. The result was that more people were attracted to these concerts and thus enabling for high earnings for the musicians and the other major players in the industry. On their part, radio stations enabled for the advertisement of music and artists giving them a wide demand coverage through which they could sell their music. At the same time, the aspect of royalties for music played by the radio stations was being practiced allowing musicians to enjoy some proceeds from the same. However, the royalties system was not yet well developed or structured into the law as it is today. Through the radio stations, the music phonographs gained popularity and sold music in the largest percentage second to live concerts.

Interrelation with Personal Study Areas and Interest

The individual areas of study and interest are on humanities. Humanities include the aspect of music and how it connects with the society. As such, learning on the development and character of music through the influence of technological advances before 1945 enables learning on the changes that occurred. Learning on these changes that occurred is a vital aspect in humanities as it gives a view of the stages of change the society underwent in relation to technological and music changes and development. These changes can then be interrelated on their effects to changes in other aspects of the society. History and development in technology and music is important as it facilitates to understand the changes that occurred in the other sectors of the society and humanities. The common factor in these changes is the human individual and society. As such, the other factors are dependent on the state of the individual and society. This means that the influential changes technological and music advancements had on the individual and society equally affected the nature of the other humanities such as language and religion.


Technological advancements in the early 20th century prior to 1945 had transformational impacts on music and the state of the society’s interaction with music. It influenced the development, style, distribution, and business of music among other factors. during this time there was witnessed the editing of music through instruments and editing technology that could combine natural and industrial sounds resulting in the highest number of music records made by that time. The ratio technology was publicized for broadcasting social messages giving focus on music. Resultantly music distribution widened the geographical coverage and sales of music phonographs reached a high. The scope of music concerts was also diversified such as the popularizing of the open-air music concerts that in turn led to increased incomes for musicians. This period was a vital part of the revolution of music to what it is today. It represents the initial interaction between traditional and folk music with technology raising the pop music form that has developed to today’s modern music. It also provides a blueprint for the development of music distribution and business through technology to what it is today.


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