Music technology is the study or the use of any device, mechanism, machine or tool by a musician or composer to make or perform music; to compose, notate, playback or record songs or pieces; or to analyse or edit music.
The earliest known applications of technology to music was prehistoric peoples' use of a tool to hand-drill holes in bones to make simple flutes.
Ancient Egyptians developed stringed instruments, such as harps, lyres and lutes, which required making thin strings and some type of peg system for adjusting the pitch of the strings. Ancient Egyptians also used wind instruments such as double clarinets and percussion instruments such as cymbals.
In Ancient Greece, instruments included the double-reed aulos and the lyre.
Numerous instruments are referred to in the Bible, including the horn, pipe, lyre, harp, and bagpipe. During Biblical times, the cornet, flute, horn, organ, pipe, and trumpet were also used.
During the Middle Ages, music notation was used to create a written record of the notes of plainchant melodies.
During the Renaissance music era (c. 1400-1600), the printing press was invented, allowing for sheet music to be mass-produced (previously having been hand-copied). This helped to spread musical styles more quickly and across a larger area.
Multitrack recording - Multitrack recording may be totally taken for granted these days, but when it first became available in the mid-’50s it was the musical equivalent of humanity’s first dabblings in aeronautics. Whereas previously musicians and sound engineers had to record a track as a whole – in just ONE take – multitrack enabled them to record separate parts of a song and then piece them together. It also allowed for individual tweaks to be made in specific sections of a song, while adding many layers to a single instrument (i.e. vocal harmonies by the same singer, recorded separately and layered together). And just like that, the recording industry was never the same again.
Auto-Tune - No-one is totally perfect, and our favourite artists are no different. Occasionally during vocal recordings, it’s common for the odd note to be slightly off-pitch. Just here-and-there, of course, and rarely anything major, but it happens. The invention of Auto-Tune, though, allowed pitch-faulty notes to be instantly and discreetly tweaked to the nearest semitone, making for pitch-perfect vocal performances every time. Though usually used subtly, some artists have used Auto-Tune to exaggerate their vocals, creating a new and original sound. Kanye West has been at the forefront of this movement, along with artists like T-Pain.
Digital software - Arguably the biggest game-changer has been the introduction of digital software into music production; allowing musicians of all abilities to write, record and produce their own songs to a reasonable quality – often from their bedrooms. Programmes such as Logic and Protools offer a range of exciting effects, plugins and tools to help improve the sonic quality of music.