‘Drum’ is a noun and a verb; an action and an item. It’s a member of the percussion family, and it’s a process of sound creation. Before there were drumheads and the sticks, there was the beat. Thus, the great question has been proposed: What came first, the music or the instrument?
The world’s oldest pieces of musical technology are drums, and the basic design of drums have remained virtually unchanged for thousands of years. Meanwhile, electronic and digital resources have boosted the ways in which music is performed, recorded, composed, reproduced, layered, and mixed. Inclusively, all technological advances can be measured and gauged by our pathways to musical creation, consumption, presentation, and engagement. Sounds have been sampled and digitized and replayed on controller devices, substituting for instruments.
Specifically, hone in on the topic of audio players, there are numerous species, generations, and iterations. In less than half a century, we progressed from the compact cassette that used a magnetic tape to the mp3 player, which was created by Erlangen-Nuremberg University in Germany, by a team of students led by Prof. Heinz Gerhäuser. MP3 were further popularized when Apple’s Steve Job created the iPod, which was identified as the most portable device in the world, holding 5GB of music. Years later, Apple produced iTunes, which is considered a platform hailed for revolutionizing the digital space, while simultaneously disrupting it.
Evolution enabled through each change to tracking mechanisms, optics, design, and software, we see that music is frequently at the forefront of technological advances because music is an educational technology system. Some insist that technology has influenced music, but it’s important to recognize the technological gains motivated by music. Music technology ushered in the development of new valve brass instruments and louder pianos, and when music was combined with mechanical technologies for those purposes, we furthered amplifiers, developed synthesizers, and clarified sound.
Sly and the Family Stone’s “There’s a Riot Goin’ On,” eased the world into the age of the drum machine, which changed the entire industry of pop music. The drum machine sound buried into the rhythm tracks of Stone’s music proved that the ‘wheel’ can be reinvented. The constant dialog between music and technology suggests that there’s a partnership between, rather than a pronounced leader.
The upcoming year will bring us a number of incredible developments in the way of synthesizers and music production. If you’re interested in learning more about music, sound, and technology, please stay tuned!
Rick Garson is driven by the possibility of innovation and growth in the entertainment industry every day. He has been at the helm of groundbreaking projects, including the famed Billboard Music Awards. Interested in learning more about Rick Garson, entertainment, travel, and entrepreneurship? Please visit RickGarson.com and RickGarson.net!