20th Century Music

musica marinMusic in the last hundred years has undergone unprecedented changes that musicians and scholars could not have foreseen. Even with the technological innovations that drove the Industrial Revolution, no one could have imagined that music in the 20th century would have changed as rapidly as it did.

As the world grew increasingly smaller due to advances in technology and transportation, people began to have more and more free time, which meant more people were experimenting with individualism and expressing themselves. When the radio and recording devices became affordable, the variety of music and its availability immersed society and eventually music was created that would suit almost anyone’s tastes. Eventually musical instruments became cheaper and for the first time in history, anyone could make their own music, and much of the music produced in the last one hundred years has been about everyday life or things we all experience, instead of things that concern kings and nobles.

Electronic instruments have also changed music and how we experience it. In previous centuries, many performances took place in opera houses or concert halls, where the building was designed to support the acoustics of popular music. In these opera houses and concert halls, many people could gather to see an artist perform, but it was difficult to hold large concerts at other locations because of unbalanced acoustics and the need to have a balanced, smooth sound. However, with the use of microphones and electronic instruments and a virtually unlimited number of devices to manipulate the sound that instrument produces, musicians are now able to perform in nearly any setting, ranging from a small venue to large outside concerts in front of thousands of people.

Another factor that has changed the face of music is the industry of promoting and selling music. For centuries musicians and other artists depended on the patronage of the church or wealthy nobles, and musicians would create music that suited their patron’s tastes. However, in modern music the public is the patron and music has become very diverse in response to this. Completely different genres, like rock and roll and rap, have been formed in an attempt to express oneself in a unique way, as well as reach a more people with a unique sound.

Many times these unique sounds mean a large paycheck for the musicians who pioneer them and those who promote them. Because of the money that has become a part of the music industry, many musical genres have become commercialized and professional musicians often produce music designed to sell albums instead of making music that is truly expressive.

Although many factors have influenced music in the last century, the affordability of technology is one of the leading causes of the popularity and diversity of music we experience today. Not only is it easier to produce music, modern music can be recorded and listened to for years in its original form as intended by the artist. Unfortunately, the commercialization of music has perhaps contributed more to the development of music than any other factor.