Here’s something that may have never occurred to you: Headphones are changing the sound of music

Artists and producers are always looking for a way to get into our heads with their music. Sometimes that involves using technology in unexpected ways. For example, have you ever stopped to consider how our increased consumption of music through headphones has changed the very nature of the music itself? This is from Quartz.

Increasingly, listening to music is an intimate affair. Instead of filling a room with sounds from a stereo, more and more people stick tiny speakers directly into their ears. Due to the rise of cheap smartphones and streaming technology, phones and computers are now the top two devices used to listen to music, according to entertainment data company Nielsen, and headphones are the best way listen to music from your favored device.
This is changing the sound of music.
In his 2012 book How Music Works, former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne posits that music composition and production are almost entirely dependent on technological context. For example, he explains that medieval European music was often harmonically simple because playing lots of notes at once sounded terrible in cathedrals, and that trumpets were common in early jazz because the instrument’s high frequency could be heard over a talkative audience. Today, keyboards have become the central instrument in music composition because it translates well to MIDI, the interface for digitizing music.

Fascinating. Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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