Has technology shorn music of its magic?

An old-timer cribs about the one thing that music can do without, but is forced to live with — technology.

AD: Hey, what are you listening to?

BC: Some vintage wonders from the 60s. They simply don't...

AD: ...make such music any more, right?

BC: It's clichéd, but true, isn't it? There's something so simple and nice about those songs that makes you want to close your eyes and lose yourself in them...

AD: Why would you want to compare music from two different eras?

BC: Technology is the key difference — its excessive use is bringing down the standard of music today, especially in the movies.

AD: Why do you say that?

BC: Music seems to be created more by computers and software than by composers today. Back then, we had songs played out by large orchestras. Imagine all those violins and flutes and...

AD: Today's music is snappy and is obviously loved by the present generation, otherwise it wouldn't continue to exist.

BC: But there's no soul in most of the songs we hear today. They don't draw you into their world... Synthetic, metallic and noisy are the kind of adjectives that one would choose to describe today's music...

AD: Those are sweeping statements, probably based on what you've listened to... Movie songs are so vastly different across languages... the South possibly prefers music with a local flavour, while Hindi numbers are getting increasingly westernised...

BC: But technology has changed the way music is composed — so much of it is pre-programmed and the focus seems to be on mixing it right and not on creating fresh music.

AD: If not for technology, a lot of old-world music could be lost forever... Thanks to digital technology, several songs that would otherwise have been wiped out have been restored. There was an interesting article a couple of months back about how scientists used X-rays to restore a 200-year-old opera.

BC: Ah, it must have revealed the skeletal structure of the song… But seriously speaking, I don’t have a problem with technology. It’s only that we seem to rely so heavily on it to...

AD: And what about the treasure trove of old songs that video sites like YouTube offers us? Practically every song and every piece of music that you would want to listen to or search for is available online.

BC: iTunes' library is equally impressive.

AD: Even accessing these songs has become simpler, as these songs are forwarded and shared many times over on social networking sites.

BC: I have a friend who shares old songs with little gems of information about them on Facebook.

AD: I know, I get those links too. And what about mobile downloads? You don't even have to carry a CD player any longer — your mobile has become your personal music player...

BC: Today, iPods and mp3 players have wiped out the music stores and several CD labels.

AD: And all those services with free downloads will eat into the market share of paid services like iTunes, Deezer and Spotify. That’s the point — technology keeps evolving, but the music continues.

BC: I recall an article that talked about a cellular service provider making more money through song downloads than music companies.

AD: That's right. Can you imagine the joy of carrying a thousand songs in your pocket?

BC: The problem is that when you get addicted to downloads, quantity scores over the finer aspects of a song. I get the feeling that people are spending more time downloading songs than they are listening to them.

AD: But think of the advantages — there was a time when you had to hunt around for LP records or wait for the radio to play your favourite songs. But now, you can download them in about a minute.

BC: That timeframe is quite significant.

AD: Why, because downloads have become that fast?

BC: No, because that's all the time people remember a song for. After that, it's time to move on to the next big chartbuster.

sureshl.india@gmail.com

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