The Evolution of Recording: A Generation X’s Perspective


Written by Mary Woodcock

28 October 2014

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It is not rare for individuals of my generation to have collected: cassettes, vinyl and CD’s.   It seemed that while one recording vessel had established itself as the norm, within 6 months another had taken over.  I realize that it did not happen that quickly as there were socio-economic factors that kicked in between each of these all of these new innovations.  Once a device was phased out, we adapted to the other, which took both time and money; is that why many individuals were so set in their ways and were not willing to adapt with the music industry and the brilliance of recording evolution that it offered us? 

I’ve heard over the years that the sound received from vinyl is a true and authentic sound, which neither cd’s or cassette’s carry. CD’s have that perfect crystal clear almost too fine tuned sound and cassette seems slightly sloppier; for many, vinyl is the ultimate.  I wonder if that is why some musicians are starting to reintroduce limited vinyl as an option for their fans never mind the larger scaled masterpieces featured on a vinyl cover. 

This introspective piece will explore all of the early and contemporary options for recording music, with MP3 and streaming capabilities leaving the physical item as outdated in the eyes of some individuals. 

What is this pencil for? 

Tweens of my generation listened to music on the radio with their blank or newly taped tab cassette tapes at the ready just in case favourite songs were to be played. To this day, I still remember coming home with a freshly purchased 12 pack of tapes for the purpose of creating playlist upon playlist for friends and family. There was a photograph floating around Facebook a few weeks back that was simply a cassette tape and a pencil. This image triggered the fine tuned memories within my mind; how much time did my generation spend rewinding or fast forwarding their tapes to the exact spot required to either listen or record when the FF or RW button were broken on your ghetto blaster?  

 


Stop scratchin’

Although the peak for vinyl was 1970’s – 1980’s, it is still crescendo without any indication that individuals will ever stop listening on their record players. At 15, while shopping with friends for vinyl downtown I found Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me by The Cure (1986) and was beyond elated.  The entire memory would come to life for me every single time that I played it on my brother’s record player (shh, he still has no idea I would ransack his vinyl when he was not home). 

Of course I would have to hunt through his entire vinyl collection to find the luscious red lips that adorned the cover; tilting the cover gently as to not have the record hit the carpet, the feel of the vinyl leaving the solace of the crinkly protective liner before gently placing that needle on the first song (The Kiss), being consumed by the memories and feel that vinyl affords us is within our senses. To this day, The Catch fills me with sentimentality; the warm sound that came from the slight scratchiness as the record would play, memories of dancing with the occasional needle skip, smiling and relishing the moment there was nothing better than vinyl during those moments. Nice that they are making a come back.

 

Frisbee’s made invisible!

CD’s are my vinyl!  Before I go for a walk, I spend 20 minutes flipping through my cd collection and gather a couple of CD’s that I feel will enhance my adventures out into our bold world.  Yes, I take my portable cd player everywhere I go.  Everyone laughs at me for not having all of my music on my phone and am constantly told that I can just as easily listen to all of my music on a smaller device – I guess I am one of those who have not yet adapted.  Not to say that I do not see the advantages of having thousands of songs recorded on one little device as opposed to having only 12 or 16 made available to you at once that requires changing every half hour or so.   It took years for me to finally replace every single cassette I had with its sister cd which is probably why I am not so quick to dispose of all of them, holding on to my roots and favourite music listening vessel. 

Nothing Sensory

With the genesis of MP3 and live streaming, there are generations that will lack the tactile feel of tapes, vinyl and CD’s.  We now have the option to play content on a device digitally without the sense of touch, which does not seem very personable if you ask me.  Our digital world is slowly desensitizing our race to a single virtual world, contemporary advancements are astonishing but in the end what will the price be? 

All of technology’s life paths, from womb to tomb, have afforded humanity with so many modes of listening.  As I mentioned above, we are all impacted on a socio-economic level; some individuals refuse to let go of their favourite some for financial reasons, others for sentimental ones.  I am curious to know what your personal preference is between the three: cassettes, vinyl or CD’s?

This article was written by Rania M M Watts – you can also read her personal blog here


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