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Music in American Culture


Commonly known as "records" in their era of greatest popularity (c. 1896–1915), these hollow cylindrical objects have an audio recording engraved on the outside surface, which can be reproduced when they are played on a mechanical cylinder phonograph (below).

The first phonograph was used to play cylinders.

The phonograph disc record was the primary medium used for music reproduction until late in the 20th century, replacing the phonograph cylinder record–with which it had co-existed from the late 1880s through to the 1920s–by the late 1920s. This is the 78 RPM version.

Nipper contemplates the big sound of a record.

This is similar to my first record player. Albums hung over the side of the machine.

The MiniDisc was a magneto-optical disc-based data storage device offering a capacity of 74 minutes and, later, 80 minutes, of digitized audio. The Sony-brand audio players were on the market from September 1992 until March 2013.

Follow the Technology

Music in American Culture 8:00-9:15 am. C199.

Basic idea is that music ALWAYS follows technology.

1945, just more than $100 million worth of records on discs made of shellac were sold. 1958, with 45 rpm singles and some albums, reached $500 million. 1965 sales had rocketed to more than $1 billion. Music industry changes, multi-billion dollar cash cow.

Before recorded music, the only way to hear music was live.

Here’s where technology begins to change music.

1) Cylinders and 78s, then 45s

2) Vinyl albums, introduced in 1947, gone as major music storage source by 1985.

3) CD: 1985-gone by 2000.

33 1/3 vinyl album=The real breakthrough.

From a business point of view, it was simple mathematics: Albums generated a lot more money than singles. It upped the financial ante considerably.

Everybody bought into albums as albums. For record companies, it was a godsend, meant selling something for $2.99 instead of 79 cents. Artists could make music that lasted longer and told stories. Consumers bought into them because they were cool.

It was part of a new form of communication.

Changed the way artists approached music. It was an era when musicians toured to sell albums, completely opposite of today.

Advent of instrument and live music technology: electric guitars an synthesizers, speakers and equipment.

The Rock Era, roughly 1965-1995, as the exception, not the rule.

©Leland Rucker 2016

Sweet Lunacy: A History of Boulder Rock on Vimeo.

Coming on 420: Debut issue of Sensi magazine.

Leland Rucker on KGNU-FM, Boulder Community Radio.

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