In the 1980s, the introduction of the digital era emerged. This is considered as one of the most fundamental changes in the music industry. The shift from analog technology to digital technology has made the music industry more accessible to people, created new sounds/styles/genres, and changed music production.
In analog technology, the signal is captured straight from the microphone then into the tape. The signal is analog when worked on and sent out as analog. In digital technology, it is similar to analog but it works internally with digital signals. Digital will take a sample of the signal which is converted into binary. After the signal is worked on it is converted back to analog. This process is achieved by an analog to digital converter (ADC) and DAC. Each system has it’s advantages and disadvantages. Analog tape will degrade over time and use. Everytime you listen to play back you lose a bit of it, everytime you over-dub you wipe off a bit of it. Digital is more durable, you can record something, comeback next week record again and it will be exactly the same. Analog and digital are subjective to listeners: digital tends to be very accurate and clean though some may say can feel unnatural. “I listen to digital and it’s just something about it that’s just not involving” Carl Beatty.
Digital technology has introduced sampling which has changed music production. Sampling has allowed the development of synthesises and drum machines which has created new musical styles/sounds which resulted in new genres being created. Genres that stem from the development of the synthesizers can be categorised as electronic music. From there many sub-genres grew from this such as dance, house, trance, synth-pop, techno e.t.c. and possibly given Disc jockeys work today.
Drum machines dated back since 1930 but it wasn’t until the digital era (1980s) that drum machines truly changed the way music is made. Drum machines are able to replicate any drum sound and digitally sample sounds to create their own. This concept of sampling technology made its way to 1983 where MIDI sampling and sequencing were developed. MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is one of the biggest breakthrough in the music industry. It has certainly changed the way music is produced and created new musical styles. With MIDI technology any individual can “play” any instrument and essentially be their own band. This has certainly changed the way music is produced and made the music industry more accessible to anyone. The continuation of the advance in MIDI has allowed sounds to also be very accurate with higher sample rates becoming available, the quality of the sound has also increased.
Digital has been the foundation for the development of many technologies. It has changed the way we produce music, created new genres of music and opened doors to the music industry for everyone
Carl Beatty Interview, Viewed 3rd of May
History of MIDI, viewed 3rd of may