Recorded Music.The phonograph, invented in 1877 by Thomas Edison, sent music on the sharpest tangent in its history. Mark Coleman writes about how the phonograph changed the music listening experience in his book, Playback: from the Victrola to MP3, 100 Years of Music, Machines, and Money.
"Before the twentieth century, listening to music was a temporal, fleeting experience--and a rare treat (1)"
Coleman writes that people enjoyed music in church, at people's homes, and in concerts. The important thing is that music was an event, a social activity that brought people together.
Coleman points out that, "The invention of the recording, the phonograph, brought them home (1)."
Technology changes music.One can not underestimate the change this had on musicians and music. Before, composers would write long, elaborate symphonies and operas because the audience may only get to hear several performances in a span of time.
After the phonograph, musicians had to redesign the way they wrote music. The phonograph only held a few minutes of music. So, the long performances were now stripped down to the basic, recognizable melody to be recorded on the phonograph.
"Technology to a large extent determines what we hear and how we hear it. The compact (three or four minutes) duration of the popular song is the enduring result of technology devised by Thomas Edison and others. Since playback is brief, popular songs must be instantly recognizable" (Coleman 1).
Concerts were still an important part of life, but after the mass production of the Victrola, music was slowly becoming a more intimate experience for the listener, as it moved from concert halls to living rooms.