Other than Auto-Tune, which new inventions in musical instruments/studio technology from the past 25 years have considerably changed the way music sounds?

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Influenced by a mention in another thread of how music changes considerably less rapidly now than in the past, I came to think that it may have to do with technology.

From after WW2 throughout the 80s, popular music history almost ran parallell with technological development, with new sounds being results of technology that was not available just a few years earlier. You had the development of the electric guitar in the 40s, the first echno machines in the 50s, an increasing number of studio tracks which first allowed for stereo sound and later for numerous multi tracks.

Guitar technology may arguably have peaked in the late 60s with Marshalls and more advance effect pedals (the Gizmo came later but never really took off), but keyboard technology continued developing, with the first Wurlitzers, Musitron, Mellotron, the first Moog, Fender Rhodes and Clavinet. And then numerous sounds, first turning polyphonic, then later digital, sampling arrived and in the late 80s you got the first "all in one"-synths with Roland D-50 and Korg M1.

Reaching the 90s, though, it seemed at one stage everything new was invented. Surely the Korg Wavestation was a rather unique invention that arrived in the early 90s and allowed for more playing around with sampled waveforms than before. But after that?`

No doubt, there have been huge changes elsewhere in the industry. Mp3 and streaming forever changed the way music is consumed while digital audio workstations have changed the way music is being made. But in the case of the actual sound, I believe there have been few inventions after that Wavestation that have really changed anything. Instead you got virtual analog synths and soft synths/software instruments which made retro sounds easily available once more. Softsynths are all over the place now, but they don't sound all that different from the old physical synths and haven't brought all that much new group.

Surely you could also count the ability to digitally compress sound which has caused the loudness war and definitely shaped the sound of the past 20 years. But ELO and Rick Springfield did that in the past as well, so it was nothing revolutionary about it except everybody does it nowadays.

So, is there anything I have forgotten. Apart from Auto-Tune, which new inventions from the past 25 years have been able to shape the way music sounds in a way that was impossible earlier?

The GeirBot (Geir Hongro), Thursday, 11 July 2019 18:35 (four months ago) link

Is Pro Tools more than 25 years old.

frustration and wonky passion (C. Grisso/McCain), Thursday, 11 July 2019 18:37 (four months ago) link

1989 according to wiki.

A little tangential to Geir’s post but the only thing which sprang to mind was hologram/virtual concerts, which changed the live experience. Not least for those who’d died before the technology became god enough to be deployed in a live setting.

Dan Worsley, Thursday, 11 July 2019 18:42 (four months ago) link

Good call about virtual concerts even though it is an industrial thing more than actually changing the sound of music.

<i>Is Pro Tools more than 25 years old.</i>

I guess it sort of falls under digital audio workstations in general. And compression has been around before that too (i.e. ELO and Rick Springfield, both of which participated in the loudness war years before it really started)

The GeirBot (Geir Hongro), Thursday, 11 July 2019 18:47 (four months ago) link

welcome back geir.
and no, I have nothing more to add to this thread as I cannot think of anything post the fairlight cmi.

mark e, Thursday, 11 July 2019 19:01 (four months ago) link

I think it's less about *unheard sounds* than factors that affect how music is made and sounds on a large scale. Easily accessible and increasingly affordable DAWs/apps/software/hardware, things like Splice making huge sample libraries available (I mean, I would never, but apparently lots of people do), etc. Now there are very few barriers to creating whatever sound you want, it's just about what you do with it.

change display name (Jordan), Thursday, 11 July 2019 19:51 (four months ago) link

And as far as *unheard sounds*, there are some crazy possibilities that are getting more accessible with modern DAWs and Max/MSP, like infinite ways to modulate a sound digitally, and have them modulating each other. But I don't know that anything truly new is possible that you couldn't do before with enough re-sampling, maybe it's just easier and more real-time?

change display name (Jordan), Thursday, 11 July 2019 19:55 (four months ago) link

yeah I thought of Max/MSP but when I looked it up it turns out that it's been around for >30 years, there's just a lot more processing power now

sleeve, Thursday, 11 July 2019 19:57 (four months ago) link

i don't think this is what geir is looking for, but the advent of streaming/listening algorithms may be changing the way artists *make* their music sound more than any particular studio technology

mookieproof, Thursday, 11 July 2019 20:00 (four months ago) link

I stand by this: What sounds 'cutting edge' in 2015?

progress has stopped, all sounds are now possible

Οὖτις, Thursday, 11 July 2019 20:01 (four months ago) link

That's the thing, there is so much accessible now that an individual sound or effect usually won't have a broad enough impact so as to be noticeable as a thing in itself.

Also a lot of novel stuff will be relatively subtle as naturally the coarser things have been done. There are obviously more refined or complex ways to manipulate pitch than autotune but the application will be less widespread or by its nature less conspicuous.

I'd say software mixing, very precise EQ and so on has probably had an effect on the sound of pop music though, not just in mastering.

Invisible (Noel Emits), Thursday, 11 July 2019 20:03 (four months ago) link

the boutique guitar pedal industry has created a lot of wild and very different sounds in the last 10 - 15 years

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 11 July 2019 20:04 (four months ago) link

Being able to DJ without carrying physical records

a hoy hoy, Thursday, 11 July 2019 20:44 (four months ago) link

It's often suggested that the default tempo in FL Studio being 140bpm had an effect on the development of grime / dubstep and related styles. Seems reasonable.

Invisible (Noel Emits), Thursday, 11 July 2019 20:45 (four months ago) link

I did not know that, but it makes so much sense!

change display name (Jordan), Thursday, 11 July 2019 20:48 (four months ago) link

Actually, coming to think of it, modern pop music - trap in particular - has some extreme EQ on the snares/claps that would have been more or less impossible to make without the modern digital EQ effects available in DAWs.

The GeirBot (Geir Hongro), Thursday, 11 July 2019 21:05 (four months ago) link

And as far as *unheard sounds*, there are some crazy possibilities that are getting more accessible with modern DAWs and Max/MSP, like infinite ways to modulate a sound digitally, and have them modulating each other. But I don't know that anything truly new is possible that you couldn't do before with enough re-sampling, maybe it's just easier and more real-time?
― change display name (Jordan), Thursday, 11 July 2019 20:55 (one hour ago) bookmarkflaglink

This seems right to me. Obviously electronic music production is a lot more accessible now and DAWs are a lot more powerful with more sounds than they used to have but my understanding is that just about every electronic track that's been made in 2019 could have been made with the technology available in 1994 - it would just have been harder/more time-consuming back then.

paolo, Thursday, 11 July 2019 21:14 (four months ago) link

always exciting when ppl do less with more amirite

rmde

Οὖτις, Thursday, 11 July 2019 21:15 (four months ago) link

xp what is it about the EQing in modern music that wouldn't have been possible earlier? I'm relatively new to production so sorry if this is a silly question.

paolo, Thursday, 11 July 2019 21:16 (four months ago) link

I am highly skeptical of that claim, to say the least

Οὖτις, Thursday, 11 July 2019 21:21 (four months ago) link

^^^ yeah that's the other thing I was thinking of

sleeve, Thursday, 11 July 2019 22:24 (four months ago) link

Geir are you an Animal Collective fan?

sleeve, Thursday, 11 July 2019 22:24 (four months ago) link

Not exactly a new invention, but the widespread adoption of seven-string guitars in metal — which began with Korn in 1994 — had a major impact on the sound of the genre and the way metal bands wrote songs, etc.

shared unit of analysis (unperson), Friday, 12 July 2019 00:36 (four months ago) link

I don't listen to metal anymore, but I get the impression that drum triggers/samples and Pro Tools forever changed the game (for certain styles)?

change display name (Jordan), Friday, 12 July 2019 02:06 (four months ago) link

I don't listen to metal anymore, but I get the impression that drum triggers/samples and Pro Tools forever changed the game (for certain styles)?

change display name (Jordan), Friday, 12 July 2019 02:45 (four months ago) link

Talk about trigger delay!

stan by me (morrisp), Friday, 12 July 2019 02:52 (four months ago) link

ha oops

change display name (Jordan), Friday, 12 July 2019 02:53 (four months ago) link

xp what is it about the EQing in modern music that wouldn't have been possible earlier? I'm relatively new to production so sorry if this is a silly question.

― paolo, Thursday, July 11, 2019 5:16 PM (yesterday) bookmarkflaglink

On, say, the mixing desk used to record Sgt. Pepper, each channel had a knob for Low and High, and that was largely the extent of EQ adjustment available. Over the next few years, Mid creeped in, then High Mid, Low Mid, etc. so by the '80s mixing desks had maybe 6 or 7 EQ knobs per channel.

Today on a typical DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) there are thousands of frequencies (probably more) that can be tweaked on each channel, theoretically allowing each instrument/channel to be heard more distinctly.

(This is a vast oversimplification, largely due to me not being an engineer.)

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Friday, 12 July 2019 14:37 (four months ago) link

no, you're exactly right. while the available spectrum has always been there, access to the spectrum has grown enormously, if that makes sense.

andrew m., Friday, 12 July 2019 15:03 (four months ago) link

Did the fact that GarageBand was bundled with the Mac OS have an influence? I imagine that if every VCR had come with a video camera, we'd have a lot more filmmakers.

dinnerboat, Friday, 12 July 2019 16:20 (four months ago) link

Triggered drums indeed changed things in metal, but that revolution was 25 years ago already. Sonically there’s not a lot of difference between 1999 and 2019 production in say death, thrash or power metal, while you can date a 1989 or 1979 album within 2-3 years almost instantly.

Siegbran, Friday, 12 July 2019 16:47 (four months ago) link

You'd think there would be more Ableton-assisted developments in metal, like tuning the guitars down farther than physically possible. But maybe that's too false.

change display name (Jordan), Friday, 12 July 2019 18:05 (four months ago) link


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