Music technology is any technology, such as a computer, an effects unit or a piece of software, that is used by a musician to help make music, especially the use of electronic devices and computer software to facilitate playback, recording, composition, storage, mixing, analysis, editing, and performance.
Music technology is connected to both artistic and technological creativity. Musicians are constantly striving to devise new forms of expression through music, and physically creating new devices to enable them to do so. Although the term is now most commonly used in reference to modern electronic devices such as a monome, the piano and guitar may also be said to be early examples of music technology. In the computer age however, the ontological range of music technology has greatly increased, and it may now be mechanical, electronic, software-based or indeed even purely conceptual.
Music technology is taught at many different educational levels, including K-12 through college and university. The study of music technology is usually concerned with the creative use of technology for recording, programming, manipulation, mixing and reproduction of music. Those wishing to develop new music technologies normally train to become an audio engineer working in R&D.
Early pioneers included Luigi Russolo, Pierre Schaeffer, Pierre Henry, Edgard Varèse and Karlheinz Stockhausen. Music technology has been and is being used in many modernist and contemporary experimental music situations to create new sound possibilities.
Music sequencer software, such as Pro Tools, Logic Audio and many others, are perhaps the most widely used form of contemporary music technology. Such programs allow the user to record acoustic sounds or MIDI musical sequences, which may then be organized along a time line. Musical segments can be copied and duplicated ad infinitum, as well as edited and processed using a multitude of audio effects.
Contemporary classical music sometimes uses computer-generated sounds, either pre-recorded or generated/manipulated live, in conjunction or wikt:juxtaposition with classical acoustic instruments like the cello or violin. Classical and other notated types of music are frequently written on scorewriter software.
Many musicians and artists use 'patcher' type programmes, such as Pd, Bidule, Max/MSP and Audiomulch as well as (or instead of) digital audio workstations or sequencers and there are still a significant number of people using more "traditional" software only approaches such as CSound or the Composers Desktop Project.
Music technology includes many forms of music reproduction. Music and sound technology refer to the use of sound engineering in both a commercial or leisurely/experimental manner. Music technology and sound technology may sometimes be classed as the same thing, but they actually refer to different fields of work, the names of which are to some extent self-explanatory, but where sound engineering may refer primarily to the use of sound technology for media-logical purposes.
- Music Technology in Education
- Music Technology Resources
- Detailed history of electronic instruments and electronic music technology at '120 years of Electronic Music'