8 oct. 2008

Changes in popular music

1. Recording. The distribution of music changes from buying sheet music of pop song to play / sing at home to buying a recording of someone else playing / singing it.

2. Microphone. Permits a more intimate, less overpowering vocal style. (Bessie Smith to Bing Crosby.)

3. Upright bass gives way to bass guitar. This one is huge. Suddenly the bass becomes a dominant element instead of being in a supportive role. All the rest of the music can get louder too.

4. Shuffle rhythm gives way to straight 8th notes as the dominant rhythm. The end of "swing" as dominant paradigm. See #3.

5. The LP. Permits the birth of the "album."

6. Other changes in recording technology. Multi-track recording, sampling. Digitilization. Other shifts in distribution (file sharing, etc...)

What else would you put on this list?

I've been listening to Orrin Keepnews podcasts. Very informative.

3 comentarios:

fjb dijo...

7. Shift from presumptive division of labor between composer (inc. lyricist) and performer(s) to performance of "original" material.

Jonathan dijo...

That's a crucial one. When I was a kid I used to think Ray Charles had written "Georgia on my Mind." Till my Dad showed me a 78 of Louis Armstrong singing it.

John dijo...

8. Walter Page and the walking bass. Makes bass central, necessary for all styles. Before then, country had no bass.

9. Invention of the drum set. Maybe the single biggest change of the last 120 years.


A note on the "album": The word dates back to collections of 78s, by analogy with "photo album." Concept album dates at least back to 1940 and "Dust Bowl Ballads." LP facilitates the recording of long, continuous takes (> 4 minutes). CD allows for "Free Jazz" to be issued continuously, without the break.