Written by: Kira Chick
Music is the one thing in the world that us as people all have in common. Listening to music can be the cure for things such as a stressful day or a bad breakup. Hitting “play” on that one perfect song can bring everything back into perspective, and make the world seem nonexistent for just a few minutes. Listening to music can be powerful, but how has this changed throughout time?
Vinyl records came about in 1930, and are now seen as more of an aesthetic than an actual way to listen to music in our generation. Cassette tapes, another “old school” way of listening to music, came about later on in 1964, and are now less commonly seen as a music tool, and more seen and used in modern forms such as in the Netflix hit, “13 Reasons Why”. However, does the feeling and experience we get when listening to vinyl records or cassette tapes differ from how we feel and experience music when listening through our airpods connected to our iPhones? Do we engage in the art of music differently? The answer, is yes.
When music was commonly played on a record player, there was more of an experience and interaction with our music. The experience of going to the record store, flipping through your favorite genres, and being able to physically touch and interact with the music you were about to purchase, was present. Not only was buying music made into an experience because of records, but it also expanded music horizons. Does the record store not have what you were looking for? Well then, you’ll have to venture into something else. With streaming apps such as Apple Music and Spotify, it’s rare you will venture into a new genre or listen to songs you’ve never heard of because whatever you’re looking for is right at your fingertips. There is almost no chance that you won’t be able to find something by Justin Bieber or something similar, that in turn you will have to listen to something by The Smith’s.
Despite the sometimes poor quality of a cassette tape, listening to music on one had the ability to be very personal. We have all seen and loved the classic romantic gesture of giving a crush or loved one a “mix tape” in old movies. Unlike streaming apps today, cassette tapes could be handmade and then physically given to anyone you wanted. Although it is possible to share songs from Apple Music and Spotify over text, the feeling of knowing that someone hand picked songs, put them on a tape, then given to you for you to keep forever, can make the experience of listening to music more emotional, personal, and sentimental, than it is to receive a shared song over iMessage.
Music today obviously has many positives such as playlists, sharing songs, and an unlimited amount of content to find, stream, search, and download. There is no doubt that the feelings and interactions we encounter when sitting and listening to music through our headphones can have extreme effects on us. However, it is clear that this experience is different with things such as vinyl records and cassettes. Are we experiencing music on a less personal level? Are we having as much of a personal and deep connection with the things we are listening to? That’s for you decide. There are many ways to get in touch with what we listen to, whether it’s through vinyl, CD’s, cassette tapes, or streaming, but there is no doubt that the experience has changed.