Music and Computers Term Paper

Nowadays it is becoming more and more evident how much music matters in peoples’ lives and how new technologies make music more accessible and the general integration of new technology into the music industry feasible. It is remarkable that the present was the future just yesterday, as the new era for music industry began. According to Tassos Patokos’s scientific paper entitled A New Era for the Music Industry: How New Technologies and the Internet Affect the Way Music is Valued and Have an Impact on Output Quality, since its yearly years, the Internet has always been used by the music industry as a powerful marketing tool to promote artists and their products (Patokos).

The changes of technology of the past years have led to a conclusion that the Internet is to blame for a crisis within the industry with the development of music “piracy”. It is widely claimed that the Internet has changed the way music is valued, the quality of music produced and perceived by consumers, who are along with artists and recording companies the key actors of the music industry.

Music industry has always been an ocean of styles which were interrelated and could never exist and develop without each other.

It was higher time for a new style to appear which would have the greatest influence on music around the world for the most of the twentieth century. Rhythm and blues often referred to as R&B, soul music was traditionally performed by blacks and originated from sociological, industrial and technological changes that took place in the USA before and in the course of World War II. It has its roots in jazz and other African American music. In urban popular music there emerged new styles to meet the tastes of common people and resulted in the development of the urbane rhythm and blues sounds.

The changes on the political arena led to several technological developments, including the electric guitar invention and the German-invented tape recorder discovery, due to which some independent recording companies were formed. It was obvious that the recording companies of the period were hardly interested in R&B, nevertheless, some independent companies played a great role in the development and distribution of the style recordings, Atlantic, Chess, Modern, etc. were among them. The early sounds of black urban music were gaining popularity throughout the United States. Their promotion was predetermined by a former jazz musician Louis Jordan, whose band was later called the Tympany Five. In the fifties, there appeared many hits of his ensemble, such as “Caldonia” and “Choo Choo Ch’Boogie”.

The style he played was called the jump-blues and became widely popular among black musicians. Jordan influenced all rhythm and blues artists of the period, including James Brown, Chuck Berry and B. B. King.

Simultaneously there emerged a new style of club blues the founder of which was Nat’King’Cole, two more styles of rhythm and blues found their niche in the music industry; they were an instrumental strain and the vocal-group genre. The most prominent instrumentalists of the time were Big Jay McNeely and Paul Williams, the saxophonists. The vocal groups included the Ravens, the Ink Spots and the Mills Brothers. In the fiftieth, R&B music was directed at teenagers’ audience. The vocal group style was replaced with doo wop, slow tempo close-harmony singing. Chuck Berry and Little Richard gave birth to black rock and roll that forever changed American culture. In the sixties, rhythm and blues made a turn again, new styles were gospel-music based Chicago soul, the Motown sound and the southern soul, which was mostly influenced by gospel-songs and rhythm and blues. In the late sixties, black Americans made an emphasis on their African identity; it was naturally reflected in music they created. The appearance of funk music was signalized with James Brown’s song “Cold Sweat” in the year 1967.

In the seventies, disco as well as funk being a dance-orientated style, dominated the music arena. Later on, in the eighties and nineties disco branched out to many other genres, many of the artists including Prince and Michael Jackson worked within junk and other dance styles.

At the period the dancing abilities of performers were brought into the foreground. Still the most important in the music development of the eighties and nineties was the emergence of rap, originating from folk music in New York City. The first rap recording “Rapper’s Delight” was made by Sugarhill Gang in 1979. In the nineties, rappers became more entrepreneurs than merely artists and performers. By the mid-nineties sampling and scratching, rap elements integrated fully into the dance-based disco music along with the continuation of the vocal group R&B tradition.

Having traced the outline of R&B evolution, the way hip hop was born and changed is more organic, evident and explicable. In the early seventies, hip hop’s fast paced music style consisted of two parts: the rhythmic delivery of rap, mentioned above, and the use of DJ instrumentation. Hip hop also has its roots from West African and African American music. Disco parties which became remarkably frequent gave rap and hip hop a chance to explode in popularity. Its instrumentation came from R&B, funk, and disco, combined with rhythmic type of music. The popularity was mainly based on DJ’s mixing of vinyl records and creating music that everyone liked. It was actually founded by a DJ Kool Herc, an American of Jamaican origin. With the use of vinyl record mixing and a DJ’s gift the culture of hip hop was born. So, hip hop engulfs the previous dimensions of Blues, R&B, Jazz, Rock and Reggae to form a new dimension and a vibratory wave pattern. It included much more dancing than R&B and especially such expressions as break dancing and Krunking, dances combined different styles and included even elements of martial arts. Hence, due to the Jamaican founder the hip hop style absorbed the Jamaican style of toasting, the act of talking of chanting over a rhythm or beat. Toasting developed at dances and was known as “blues dances”.

Having taken in the elements of different music styles, hip hop remains a mystery, as its adherents claim. Hip hop music contains in itself the culture of hip hoppers, who are highly spiritual people; according to them, actions should have only positive influence on health, love and awareness. The culture of hip hoppers embraces not only music but also Deejaying development, Breaking, Graffiti art, Emceeing, Beat-boxing, Street Fashion and language, Street Entrepreneurship, and other spheres.  The essence of hip hop music and culture in general is formulated by KRS-ONE, one of the founders of the Temple of Hip-Hop the following way: “language is the expression of creative intelligence ”¦ So what we have to do is take words ”¦ and transform them to fit our consciousness, to fit how we’re coming at the world.

This is what Hip-Hop is; it is the transformation of subjects and objects in an attempt to describe your consciousness” (KRS-ONE). Surely, hip hop has undergone a number of changes in the course of time and music lovers may trace the peculiarities of changing faces of both hip hop and R&B and their unintentional influence on each other.

Consequently, both music styles have roots from African American music and are products of a combination of styles. Both were influenced with disco music trends and express poverty and oppression of the time, to a certain extent. As they were audience orientated, they seemed to bring to listeners the same message but in different ways, typical for each style. In the fifties, for instance, black music was rarely played on radio and some stations dedicated to it only about half an hour a day. Actually, R&B appeared more than two decades earlier than hip hop and was influenced by jazz and blues, while hip hop was mostly influenced by funk, disco, rock and even R&B itself.

What also makes these two music styles different is the fact that hip hop appeared as a recorded music based on mixing of what was recorded by real live artists. But this difference was evident mainly in the past when the technologies left much to be desired. Nowadays, the technologies unite music trends, as they all comprise the whole music industry the mechanism of functioning of which is similar for all music styles.

Hip hop music as well as rhythm and blues music production has considerably changed in the past decade as the advent of computers and the Internet have changed the music production’s face. Naturally, the technology alters not only the sonic nature of the music, it produces and changes the landscape of the music scene by enabling more people to produce hip hop and R&B music at a nearly professional level.

Still professional music is recorded and mastered by skilled professionals on respective equipment.

The production of hip hop as well as R&B gradually relies on the latest, digital technology, slowly rejecting its analog history of using machines such as the four track, turntable and microphone. According to Daniel Roy’s Hip Hop Technology and Blowing Up, high-priced production facilities created a new market of better and more expensive equipment to replace the cheaper one. Both R&B and hip hop production are intimately tied to technology. Digital technology provides creators with high-end, high-fidelity, precision engineering beats and modern world producers such as Akai, E-mu and Korg, which provide concerned with a wide range of equipment for “bedroom producers” as well as high-end studio producers. High-quality samplers are certainly the central piece of hardware, as they allow samples to be recorded and reproduced. Technologies provide producers with sampler-enabled keyboards, effect boxes, numerous plug-ns and sample kits.

In the course of time vinyl records were replaced with compact discs and the Internet served as a facilitator for removing restrictions of file-sharing. As music encoding and computer files provided customers with their quick and easy exchange, and great amounts of information became accessible to listeners all over the world, there grew the popularity of file-sharing programs in the Internet. These digital advances resulted in advantages and disadvantages for all actors of the music industry, including recording companies. On the one hand, they assisted in promoting artists’ works, on the other hand, “piracy”, free downloading, have become serious problems within the industry circles.

The Internet and the digitalization forever changed the behavior of both listeners and artists who now have an access to a tremendous volume of information, they no longer depend on the music media for the information on the recent works of art production, as means of production, advertising and distribution are now different. These new possibilities brought a new era for the music industry. The year 2008 brought a number of changes which were reflected in the music industry through the advances of technology – from recording to purchasing. The future looks bright. Today, customers have a wide choice and a great number of possibilities. So, no one is any more amazed neither with “torrents” downloading, nor with on-line stores, selling R&B and hip hop artists’ albums which are available anytime.

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