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Music, music, it's everywhere!

In this modern world, it's hard to imagine a life without music. I mean, have you ever stopped to think about the fact that no matter where you go or do, there's always a tune to follow you. Today, being entertained by music is as inexpensive as a $10 radio. The programming is free, and you get to choose a wide variety of different types. It's hard to imagine carrying on life's daily activities without music of some sort to follow us around, but that is the way things were for thousands of years. The constant stimulation of our ears is something very modern, which is perhaps less than seventy years old.

As you may be able to see, a major cultural divide takes place around music. The wealthier you are, the fancier the musical instruments you can afford. Wealthy people too, would frequently have their own orchestra available. Lesser affluent people did not have the resources to spend on expensive instruments, so they would make them out of ordinary everyday objects. The distribution of music written by some of the more famous authors such as Beethoven, Bach, and such would frequently never make it down to the lower class. Because of this, many musical works have simply been lost in time that was created by lesser affluent people.

Many things have affected music over the years, as it has developed all over the entire world for years without any connection across the cultures until here recently. It is hard to imagine modern transportation affecting music, but the influence of mechanical transportation like railroads, steam boats, and other modes has been quite dramatic. In today's world of instant communications, it's hard to imagine that just a few hundred years ago, it took days for something be it information, or a tangible object to get just 100 miles or so to the next town. Because of this, cultures around the world were isolated for years from each other, and developed their own musical genres and methods of creating it. Music from around the world is dramatically different depending on what culture it's from. Only here recently have we been able to instantly send a recording anywhere in the world, or even to package an instrument up, and send it thousands of miles away to another person in a few days to spread the culture of their music and for others to enjoy.

We also cannot forget the church's influence of music in early culture. The church, frequently the center of towns, was not only the place to be spiritually fulfilled, but was also the place for community gatherings and other such events. With this many people together in one place there has to be folks around with musical talent. As these folks would get together and perform in the church, the church quickly became the place to hear music performed by their fellow townspeople. In today's world of music everywhere, it's hard to think that the only place most people would hear music was in the church. The sound of a hymn was something to savor and be very thankful for. Visitors from other towns would occasionally frequent, or the townspeople would bring music heard in other churches back to their own, so the church also became the primary source of distribution of most music.

We really take for granted our opportunity to listen to music today because it is so easy to obtain, and in fact, it sometimes even becomes annoying at times because we cannot escape it. When Thomas Edison recorded the first words onto the phonograph though, this was the not only simply a beginning of change in how we were entertained, but a creation of an entire new industry and culture shift. Before the phonograph, the only way to enjoy music was to make it yourself, or hire someone to play it for you. The only way to record and distribute music to the masses was to write it out on sheets, and have it performed by musicians. As you can probably see by now, a piece of music can sound completely different depending on who played it, or what instruments were used. With the phonograph, an exact copy of the music material exactly the way the artist intended could be distributed to listeners. The phonograph worked to bring down both financial barriers, as well as geographical barriers to music because with the music captured onto a medium, it could now make it into the hands of anybody willing to purchase it anywhere you wanted to ship it. No longer was performing the music each time it wanted to be heard necessary (and the expense), just the playing of a mechanical device.

Radio was also another dramatic influence to the world of music. It is readily apparent when you turn on the radio today that it is a major player in the music and recording industry, but when it was invented, it also allowed cultural exchange, and still does. With the phonograph, in order to share music, the music has to be recorded, and then sent on the media to it's destination, which could take several days. Radio on the other hand, gave the opportunity to send musical programming, or any other type of programming for that matter, around the world instantly. Radio worked to bring down wealth barriers in music more than any other medium. Many people bought radios that were both rich and poor when it became popular during the 1930's. Advertising paid for the airtime, so for the listener, the program material was essentially free. With the fact that the signal makes it into a rich person's home just as well as a poor person's home, the barriers of wealth on different musical varieties were brought down just as fast as the distance barriers.

 

Many smaller technologies have helped music along as well. The introduction of amplification equipment and speakers allowed music to be played at loud enough volumes for large crowds to hear. With the combination of recording technologies, it meant that media could be played to just one person or thousands at one time again and again. Technology has also created completely new instruments, some of which cannot even be heard unless they are connected through speakers and amplifiers. Modern recording equipment allows musicians to play individual instruments at different times, and be mixed down into a complete song where all the instruments are heard at once, and to create sounds totally impossible by playing music in "real time". Music these days can even be composed over the Internet and sent back and forth by musicians connected thousands of miles away and mixed down into a complete song.

Think about all the many sources of music, and the many different varieties that are encountered everyday, it's hard to imagine our lives in silence, with only the sounds of nature. We have sort of been fatigued by the proliferation of music. We get into our car for a drive, and the radio plays our favorite type of music. Stop at the store to grab some food, and music plays through the speaker system inside. At work, you probably have a radio or a CD player sitting on your desk. At home, most people listen to music while doing chores or work. Music is used in advertising because a catchy beat or tune will stick in our head easily, especially after it's played over and over. I bet you can remember an advertising jingle rather quickly. How quick though does a church hymn come to your head.

There is no doubt those music influences our mood, and the right music can set the mood for any situation. For this reason, it is used in many places and settings to place a person's mind into the mood desired at that time. Music sets our culture, as it is a direct connection to the many varieties of people in the world today. Music is used as a communication method to send ideas and messages out to the masses. It can be used to protest or praise, to uplift or put down. As varied as personalities are in the world today, there is a genre of music to fit it, and technology provides a way of delivering it to that person!

If you like to listen to music, you might want to do yourself a favor. Instead of turning on the radio or the CD player every time you are around one, keep it silent, and then start humming some of your favorite tunes in your head. Use your musical reproduction appliances sparingly, and you will savor the moments you are listening to music that much more. Truly modern devices are wonderful at distributing music and allowing us to enjoy it instantly, but we take the time we listen for granted more often than not which unfortunately clouds our mind of really truly enjoying it.