Can anyone learn to play an instrument?

Learning the violin

Learning the violin

It’s a question we’ve all pondered over at some point or another: should I learn to play an instrument? For some people, musical talent seems to come naturally, while for others, the word ‘tonedeaf’ might spring to mind. But it’s not just our innate musical abilities (or lack thereof) that could be stopping us from becoming the next Beethoven – age and temperament may also affect our ability to learn an instrument. So, if you’re in two minds about whether you’re ready to start making music or quit while you’re ahead, here are some things to bear in mind.

Are we born with a musical ability?

While there have been studies to suggest that musical capacity is down to genetics, skills can still be learned. As instrument specialists Caswell’s Strings points out, some form of practice and instruction is still beneficial for development. Ok, so you may not have an instinctive grasp of musical structure or be able to tell the difference between an accelerando and an allegro, but that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. Of course, some people will develop much quicker than others and reach higher levels of achievement, but even the most advanced musical mastermind still needs to put the work in.

Am I too old?

It’s commonly believed that the brain loses its plasticity as we age, making it difficult to learn something new. In this case, the well-known proverb ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ is false. In fact, the brain actually maintains its ability to adapt and respond to new experiences, meaning it’s never too late to start playing an instrument. Although you may not be able to pick it up as well as you would if you were learning as a child, it can still be done.

Do I have the right temperament?

When starting out, it’s important to bear in mind that becoming a skilled pro won’t happen overnight. Of course, we all want to sound like a prodigy from the get-go, but it’s just not realistic – you can expect a lot of squeaking, screeching and shrill notes in the first few months. Starting with the basics can be frustrating, especially for adults, but it’s necessary if you want to enhance your skills and see your ability play grow. It takes a lot of dedication and patience, but for those who are willing to put in the effort, it can be extremely rewarding experience.

25 Years is just the intro…

Manchester Academy

Manchester Academy

Over 3 million avid music fans. More than 1,600 unforgettable gigs. Manchester Academy celebrates 25 Years of Rock’n’Roll history and counting.

As one of UK’s busiest venues and host to some of the most thrilling live entertainment in the Northwest, Manchester Academy is proud to reach a landmark 25 years on October 7th 2015.

Following our announcement last week, we thought it only fitting that an independent venue forged from a debut punk eruption and proudly embracing 25 years of sharing musical history and heritage, do something a little special to celebrate the fact, that we, always have been, in it together!

 

For 25 years, the Academy has been the beating heart of the city’s untouchable live music scene, both celebrating the classic and providing the platform to propel tomorrow’s brightest talents to uncharted stratospheric heights. From Bowie to Bastille, Foo Fighters to Faithless, Kylie to Korn, Lady Gaga to London Grammar, The Prodigy to Prince and Radiohead to Robbie Williams we have been privileged to host them all. After all this time, our unquenchable thirst for live music will be celebrated in our year-long series of unique events as we look back on 25 years of Rock’n’Roll and assemble the stars of the future in a series of line ups like you’ve never seen before.

It is just as much those in front of the stage that have made the Academy the stuff of many a Mancunian legend. We’ve welcomed in Grungers, Goths, Riot Grrrls and Grebos; Brit-Poppers, Lad Rockers and Chart Toppers; Metallers, Ravers and Shoegazers; Dubsteppers and lovers of dub, roots and reggae. We’ve opened our doors to every musical tribe and provided a home to make musical memories together. Whether it was camping out in the queue, singing your heart out, being hurled in a circle-pit, first dates, star-struck moments, engagements, or grounds for divorce – YOU, the crowd have made every second at Manchester Academy something quite special.

 

To thank you all, the unique year-long series will begin with the first of our 25th Birthday celebrations on the 10th October 2015 and continue through 2016. [Ticket details below]

The Artists: Announcing the first 4 exclusive Academy shows 
Assembling titans of music new and old, the Academy 25 series line-ups will boast towering headliners joined by very special guests – far more than just your standard warm-up acts. We guarantee that no show will be like any other in the country.

We are delighted to announce to you the first four of these specially curated celebration shows will feature…

BUZZCOCKS – Saturday 10th October 2015

+ A Selection of Very Special Guests TBA

We are proud to welcome back the band whose Rock’n’Roll ethos has been at the Academy’s core since they opened the venue in October 1990: Buzzcocks.

Setting the course of their 2015 The Way Tour for home especially for the inaugural do, Manchester’s finest punk export will be returning to the Academy on 10th October 2015 for their first gig at the venue in over 6 years. Expect the band to be in blazing form as they renew their vows with the Oxford Road venue for the 8th time, armed as ever with a charm offensive of smash hits including “What do I Get?”, “Ever Fallen in Love?” and “Harmony In My Head” and countless others.

Look out for a further announcement confirming a selection of very special guests who will be joining Buzzcocks for the first 25th anniversary show.

Doors 4.00pm / Curfew 11pm / Tickets £20.00 Advance STBF

PETER HOOK & THE LIGHT – Friday 30th October 2015
A “Joy Division”
Celebration – Performing Unknown Pleasures & Closer

And featuring an opening set of ‘New Order’ material

A man with a legacy as legendary as the Academy’s, Peter Hook is set to grace our stage with not just one, but three sets with his talented backing band The Light. The ex-New Order and Joy Division bassist will be bringing his definitive low-slung bass to the venue for a unique show that will comprise of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures and Closer played in their full glory back to back. But make sure you get down early, as Hook whips out the synthesisers for a support slot by none other than Peter Hook and The Light, rifling through a set of New Order classics to warm up.

Doors 7.00pm / Curfew 11pm – Tickets £23.00 Advance STBF

FROM THE JAM + THE UNDERTONES + THE BEAT – Saturday 31st October 2015

[+ More Guests TBA]

Making an early bid for the most hit-packed gig of the series, the one and only Bruce Foxton rolls out his From the Jam hit parade of 18 UK Top 40 singles on 31st October 2015. The Academy may not have even been in blueprint form by the time The Jam’s career came to an end but it’s testament to their legacy that classics including “Town Called Malice”, “Eton Rifles”,  and “In The City” when blasted out of our PA can still get any crowd going.

But the hits won’t stop with the headliner as we introduce seminal flanking performances for the night. Having played our Academy stage in our opening week back in 1990 under their That Petrol Emotion moniker, we’ve invited back the O’Neill brothers, Damian and John with another project they were in that you might have heard of… As Derry’s premier post-punk idols The Undertones, reunited once again we are delighted to announce that the band will be back in Manchester once again to show an Academy it’s twenties that that their Teenage Kicks can still pack a punch.

Then, getting the rhythm rolling for this triple-bill of acts will be 2-Tone triumphs The Beat as they reflect on their 37 years as band with outings of “Mirror in the Bathroom” and “Too Nice to Talk Too”.

Look out for a further announcement confirming a yet more guests who will be joining this bill as part of our 25th anniversary celebrations.

Doors 4.00pm / Curfew 11pm / Tickets £22.00 Advance STBF

 

THE WEDDING PRESENT – Saturday 14th November
Plus Support from artists personally chosen by David Gedge

And, of course, how could any special anniversary at the Academy be celebrated without remembering The Wedding Present? Taking to the stage on the 18th November 1990, the David Gedge led indie four-piece helped make our maiden year a memorable one as they revelled in the successes of their classic second LP Bizzarro and its timeless top 40 hits “Kennedy” and “Brassneck”. Twenty-five years on, the band return with their searing live reputation untarnished and with a special support acts chosen by Gedge himself to be revealed in due course.

Look out for a further announcement confirming the selection of special guests who will be joining The Wedding Present for this 25th anniversary show.

Doors 6.00pm / Curfew 11pm / Tickets £18.00 Advance STBF

Tickets

Tickets for the first four Manchester Academy events will go sale on with as follows

  • Pre-Sale via the venue’s Facebook & Ticketselect on Thursday 19th Feb @ 5.25PM.
  • General sale via all agents on Saturday 21st Feb @ 9AM.

More Festivities

The Manchester Academy has never done entertainment in half measures and we don’t intend to let you down now. Over the next few months we will continue to announce even more unique gigs and line ups, special events, limited edition merchandise, giveaways and much, much more…

A Final Thanks

Out moshing Jilly’s Music Box and raving beyond the Hacienda years, we are hugely grateful to everyone who has helped the Academy outlast even our host city’s very finest venues since 1990.

We really can’t thank all of you gig-goers, artists, promoters, agents, managers and staff that have always supported us all this time. We can only repay you with the only way Manchester knows how: one massive party.

We’ll supply the music, just bring yourselves. Here’s to another 25 years!

Academy 25: The Line-Up (so far…)

BUZZCOCKS  – Saturday 10th October 2015 

Plus a section of Very Special Guests TBA

************************************************************************************************************

PETER HOOK & THE LIGHT – Friday 30th October 2015
A “Joy Division” Celebration – Performing Unknown Pleasures & Closer

And featuring an opening set of ‘New Order’ material

************************************************************************************************************

 

FROM THE JAM + THE UNDERTONES + THE BEAT – Saturday 31st October 2015
Plus Guests TBA

************************************************************************************************************

 

THE WEDDING PRESENT – Saturday 14th November 2015
Plus support from artists personally chosen by David Gedge

************************************************************************************************************

For more information visit: Manchester Academy Official

f/ https://www.facebook.com/manchesteracademy

t/ – https://twitter.com/MancAcademy

Tickets for the first four events will go sale on general sale on

Saturday 21st February @ 9.00AM

5 memorable festival performances

Nirvana, Reading

Nirvana, Reading

While there has been a multitude of truly spectacular stage performances that span the decades, there are some that stand out from the rest. From the weird and wonderful to show-stopping stage productions, here’s a roundup of the most memorable festival performances to date:

1. Nirvana, Reading Festival, 1992

Dave Grohl has since commented that he thought Nirvana’s headlining gig would be the end of their career. Quite the contrary, the band’s performance at Reading made music history and is often considered one of the greatest festival performances of all time.

With the onslaught of rumours surrounding Kurt Cobain’s unstable health, many had feared that the band would be forced to cancel the show. In retort to his hostile critics, Cobain made his entrance in a wheelchair, dressed in a surgical gown and a disheveled wig. After faking a dramatic swoon, the eccentric front man lead the band through an electric set, enthralling excited grunge fans right to the very end, where he finished the set by handing over his guitar to a member of the crowd.

2. Bob Dylan, Newport, 1965

Known as the moment that marked a conscious shift in artistic direction, Bob Dylan’s 1965 Newport performance sparked controversy amongst his most dedicated fans. Armed with a Fender Stratocaster, Dylan unleashed his first ever electric guitar set, much to the Newport crowd’s dismay.

Throughout the set, Dylan was booed and heckled by dedicated folk-fans who disapproved of the musician’s decision to abandon his authentic folk origins and deviate from his well-loved acoustic sets of ‘63 and ‘64. Despite the hostile reception from his core fanbase, Dylan’s ‘plugged in’ debut has since been recognised and celebrated for breaking down the barriers between two distinct music genres.

3. Jimi Hendrix, Monterey Pop Festival, 1967

Behind the scenes of Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 was a an ongoing dispute as to who held the title of the ultimate rock master – Pete Townshend from the Who or Jimi Hendrix. Once again, Hendrix’s charismatic stage presence and masterful guitar skills made him the star of the show. After smashing out an exhilarating set, the band’s superior status was instantly sealed in history.

To finish the 45 minute set, Hendrix kneeled down next to his guitar, doused it in lighter fluid and set it alight as a kind of celebratory bonfire symbolising his triumph in this epic rock battle. The image of the guitarist kneeling over his flaming guitar remains one the most iconic moments in rock and roll history.

Bob Dylan, Newport

Bob Dylan, Newport

4. Radiohead, Glastonbury, 1997

Following the release of the critically-acclaimed Ok Computer, Radiohead’s 1997 Glastonbury performance marked their move into to the realm of the artistic greats. Masterful, moving and ethereal are just some of the terms that have since been used to describe their legendary set. A far cry from the usual spirited crowds that line the fields of Glastonbury, the band created an atmosphere that was almost mournful. With Jonny Greenwood’s mesmerizing guitar solos combined with Thom Yorke’s delicate harmonies, the performance was undeniably a game changer for modern rock music.

5. Jay Z, Glastonbury, 2008

Ever since the lineup was announced in 2008, the very thought of having a US rapper performing at the UK’s biggest ‘rock’ music festival was enough to rile Glastonbury veterans into an disgruntled frenzy. Even Noel Gallagher famously condemned Jay Z’s prime position at the festival as ‘wrong’. In an impudent response to his criticism, Jay Z took to the legendary stage dressed in an Gallagher-style parka jacket and launched into an deliberately abysmal rendition of ‘Wonderwall’.

After a tour de force of his greatest hits, Jay Z officially managed to convert even the most traditional rock-fans into hip-hop enthusiasts. As the first ever rapper to headline in the entire history of the iconic festival, there’s no denying that Jay Z’s performance was a triumphant dismantling of festival boundaries.

If you’re feeling inspired by these memorable performances and are looking to buy tickets for the world’s most celebrated festivals, you can head to websites like Gigantic.

Article by Simon Lucas on behalf of Gigantic Tickets.

Top Five Ways To Recycle Your Cheesiest CD’s

Old CDs

Old CDs

Come on, own up. Yes you… Come on, hand it over. That’s right, there’s no point denying it, many of us try to, but it affects us all. “TragicCDitus” is a common condition that affects many music lovers in every household up and down the country. And sadly, it’s rumoured to be contagious with no known vaccine available to man. Unfortunately, many of us have that one or in my case few, tragic, cheesy CDs we no longer listen to or admit to owning.

For me it’s Dido.. Remember her? She was big for about three years with her nasal, dreary, flat repertoire that would make even Carol Smilie reach for the Vodka and cry! Yes, well as a young impressionable teenager living on the outskirts of London no one bothered telling me just how bad this woman truly was, until I had a reality check a few years later and bought an iPod joining the digital insurgency.

It’s safe to say, that Dido, Hansen and Busted for that matter, were the first CDs to be put in the “what was I thinking?” pile and sold. Luckily for many people who want to sell CD’s there’s always several websites online where you can get money for your old CDs. Some of these websites can also be used to sell macbook pro computers, old electronics, ipods, DVDS etc.

Anyway, with this in mind, it got me thinking of other uses for tragic CDs. Yes, a top five list of the different uses a recycled cheesy CD can bring you. Have a read, enjoy it and who knows, maybe you’ll add to the growing list? Go on, hunt out that Dido CD and start getting creative!

  • Mould the disks – Interestingly, if CDs or DVDs are dropped into near boiling water in a pan and sensibly removed they can be cut very easily with scissors into a host of diverse shapes (for badges, decorations etc).
  • Catch Candle Drips On Used CD! – That’s right, modify your CD’s and turn them in to candle holders!
  • Pet Hanging Mirror – Look great in reptile bird cages and cat trees! Simply, use a small broken piece from a Hansen Greatest Hits CD and carefully smooth the edges to make a hole in the centre to put a piece of string through. Voila! You have a pet hanging mirror for your companion to admire themselves in!
  • A Work Of Art! – That’s right, put your artistic skills to good use by creating artwork from the disks. They look great on walls and with a bit of acrylic and beads can become a centre piece for any home!
  • Drink Holders – A must have for any guy or gal looking for somewhere to rest their cold beer in. Simply cut a small opening in the side of the CD that is big enough to hold your glass or beer. Next step is to attach the CD holder to a hard stand and abracadabra, you have a drinks holder that look s great on any table surface!

How a Vinyl Record is Made

Ever wondered how vinyl records are manufactured?

Disc records for audio have been manufactured since the late 19th century. Although the process has changed gradually over the years, the basic principles of sound recording to disc have remained the same as the very first experiments in sound.

Vinyl Record Production

Vinyl Record Production


How Vinyl Records Are Made Part 1

How Vinyl Records Are Made Part 2

Article originally by Simon Lucas

The History of Hip Hop

Early Hip Hop DJs

Early Hip Hop DJs

The early days

The seeds of Hip Hop were first sown during the early 70s by DJs such as Cool Herc in the Bronx, U.S.A.

DJs would play parties with twin turntables and soon realised that by using two copies of the same record they could prolong their favorite breakdowns to the further enjoyment of the crowd.

Over these extended breakdowns MCs could tell or rap stories along to the beat, whether it be about a woman they liked or about what they had for breakfast, it all added to the effect of the records and sometimes added a touch of light hearted entertainment in an otherwise difficult ghetto life.

Eventually the DJs started making their own records to rap over. By using Roland drum machines and electronic synthesizers that could be synchronized together, a new sound called Electro Hip Hop was formed.

Breakdance & Graffiti

Wild Style Graffiti

Wild Style Graffiti

This music craze was accompanied by another new art form.. Spraycan Art or Graffiti Art which also originated in the Bronx but quickly spread across America and eventually Europe and the world.

Gradually a new way of dancing accompanied Hip Hop and Electro, it took wild moves from Jazz, disco and other street dance forms and became known as break dancing and body popping (inspired by robotic movement). Breakers would form crews and use linoleum sheets or card to battle each other, sometimes in front of passers by.
The fashion was also important, b-boys would wear designer sports labels such as Nike, Puma, Adidas, Fila and Elise.. from head bands to trainers and caps to shell tracksuits.

The popularity of the sampler allowed hip hop producers to sample old funk and soul records to further experiment with break beats. By the late 90s Hip Hop was reaching its zenith and artists such as BDP, Mantronix, Eric B & Rakim and De La Soul were finding great popularity.

Evolution

UK Garage - The Streets

UK Garage - The Streets

Even white punk and rock bands tried getting in on the act with artists such as Aerosmith and The Beastie Boys turning to Hip Hop, with their fanss normally into heavy metal wearing lace-less shell toe Adidas trainers.

Hip Hop has since remained popular in two forms, on a commercial level which is more commonly associated with R&B and the likes of MTV but also it carries on in a more underground fashion and there are new sub genres constantly emerging such as grime and garage. Hip Hop style rap is also used over certain dance music records, some better than others.

Hip Hop will always be around thanks to a rich heritage laid down by such luminaries as Afrika Bambaataa and The Soul Sonic Force, hip hop continues to evolve.

Article originally by Simon Lucas

The History Of Vinyl Records

Tuning Fork

Tuning Fork

1806: Englishman Thomas Young records the vibrations of a tuning fork on a rotating drum covered with wax but Young has no way of playing back the sound.

1856: Alexander Parkes develops ’Parkesine’ in Birmingham, UK. This is generally considered to be the first plastic.

1857: Frenchman Leon Scott de Martinville converts air pressure fluctuations caused by sound into an undulating line on a sooty surface by way of pig’s hair, a large horn and a diaphragm but has no method of playback, he names this the ‘Phonoautograph‘.

1857: Hermann von Helmholtz notices that he can make the music strings in his piano vibrate when he sings into it. He then causes a tuning fork to vibrate and produce sound by switching an electromagnet on and off. This principle is the basis of the audio speaker.

1874: W.H. Barlow builds The Logograph, this creates a graphic representation of the sound vibrations produced by speech.

1876: Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone which spurs on other sound devices.

1877: The first disc records are described as part of a sound recording and reproduction device by Charles Cros of France, this is never built.

1877: Through experimenting with an early type of answerphone, Thomas Edison runs paraffin coated paper under a stylus while shouting into a telephone speaker, the vibrations leave a faint impression of his voice which can be played back. He soon replaces the paper with a rotating drum coated in tin foil which runs underneath the stylus. A clearer speech like noise emanates which gives Edison the idea to be able to record and also play back a sound source – Mary had a little lamb. Later that year he builds the first Phonograph choosing the rotating drum over flat discs as a format.

1877: E.W. Siemens in Germany and the team of Cuttris and Redding in the U.S. develop the dynamic microphone. In this device, the diaphragm is attached to a light coil that generates voltage through electromagnetic induction as it moves back and forth between the poles of a permanent magnet.

1881: Charles Tainter makes the first lateral-cut records in the Volta laboratories of Alexander Graham Bell in America – still no method of playback for disc records.

1883: Thomas Edison accidentally discovers what comes to be known as the Edison Effect which later become the basis of the electron tube, and the foundation of the electronics industry in the 20th century.

Early Gramophones

Early Gramophones

(Top left, a hand-driven Berliner gramophone from 1893, top right, an Edison Bell phonograph made in 1904. Bottom left is a Columbia gramophone. Bottom right, a Berliner toy gramophone from 1890)

1885: Chichester Bell and Charles Tainter build an improved phonograph at Volta Lab, it uses a wax coated cylinder scored with vertical-cut grooves, they name it the “Graphophone“.

1887: Edison uses a solid wax cylinder in the phonograph, a battery-driven motor now powers the machine instead of the hand crank system resulting in a constant pitch.

1888: Emile Berliner perfects playable 7″ Lateral-cut disc records as the format for his “Gramophone“, these discs are initially only used in toys, the vulcanised rubber discs are easy to reproduce from the zinc master which is coated in wax. – Around this time Edison and Bell are at constant legal war over patent disputes.

1889: Columbia Phonograph Co. is founded. The company tries marketing graphophones to businesses but later finds better revenue by recording music and leasing them to fairgrounds, where they find great favour as the first nickel juke boxes.

1890: Phonograph cylinders can now record audio up to a maximum of 4 minutes and juke boxes become a powerful commodity in the music industry.

1894: Berliner’s American Gramophone company sell many electric and hand powered Gramophones, manufacturing thousands of disc records to go with them. In this year an early form of Radio is invented in Italy by Guglielmo Marconi.

1896: A spring motor is added to the gramophone by Eldridge Johnson in New Jersey, U.S.A., this allows better ‘hands free’ power capabilities and portability.

Early Record Disc

(A Victrola Gramophone, courtesy of kevin in Canada)

1897: Vulcanite playback discs are superseded by Shellac discs which are part made from a species of Beetle.

1902: Ten inch disc records (10″) are made by the Gramophone Company and begin to feature many different international artists, these have a maximum play time of 4 minutes and are known as “Red Seal”.

1903: Twelve inch records (12″) are made (later to be become the standard dance music record release size).

1904: Double sided disc records become popular.

1906: The Victrola gramophone is designed by Eldridge Johnson and mass produced, it becomes a bench mark for record players for many years, appearing as a piece of furniture with the mechanism hidden from view, the record player becomes an acceptable piece of household furniture.

1912: Thomas Edison introduces the Blue Amberol cylinder which has a longer playing time than Berliners records but the recordings prove difficult to reproduce.  In this year the ‘Audion’ vacuum-tube amplifier is invented.

1917: The first Jazz record is recorded by the Original Dixieland Jass (Jazz) Band from New Orleans.

1918: The patents for the manufacture of lateral-cut disc records expire, other companies produce them and disc records become more popular than the cylinder format. In this year the first ever sounds of war are recorded – a gas shell bombardment.

Production of Amberol cylinders ceases in the late 1920s and cut disc records govern the music market.

1925: Electrical amplification is used for recording and playback of discs offering a better frequency range for the audio.

1926: A lightweight piezo-electric stylus is designed by Charles Brush.

1927: The automatic juke box goes on sale.

1928: Pioneering work into what is later to become known as ‘Television‘ is carried out on ‘Phonovision’ wax discs by John Baird.

1930: RCA Victor launches the first commercially available vinyl long-playing record, marketed as Program Transcription discs. These discs are designed for playback at 33 rpm and pressed on a 30 cm diameter flexible plastic disc. This is a commercial failure because of lack of affordable, reliable playback equipment and the Great Depression in America, not to mention the rising popularity of ’Radio’ (which is free).

1931: Harvey Fletcher, Arthur C. Keller and Leopold Stokowski manage to record and transmit monaural and binarual sound in the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. At the same time Alan Dower Blumlein files a patent application in for stereo recording in Britain.

1932: The first stereo disc is recorded by Stokowski at Bell labs in Philadelphia using vinyl rather than shellac, initially two separate grooves are made for each channel but Arthur Keller later creates a stereo recording in one groove.

By the mid 1930s vinyl achieves a lower surface noise than shellac, radio commercials and programs are sent to disc jockeys (a term earned through jockeying up the next record) on the less brittle vinyl to avoid breakage in the mail, also World War II leads to short supplies of shellac. V-Disc produces 12″ 78 rpm records on vinyl for US troops and 16″ records for radio transcriptions.

Early Record Sleeve

Early Record Sleeve

Record collections are held in paper sleeves in a cardboard or leather book, similar to a photograph album, and called record albums (some claim this term arrived as early as 1909). Vinyl records are sold in paper or printed card sleeves for protection, generally with a circular cutout allowing the record label to be seen.

1939: Columbia Records continue extensive development of the record to to improve recording and playing back concentrating on narrower grooves and developing an inexpensive, reliable consumer playback system, by the mid 1940s, 78 rpm vinyl is the DJs choice cut. Magnetic Tape is invented in this year.

1940: Mobile DJs become popular around the world as entertainers for military troops during WWII, however they still only use a single record player.

Mobile Record Player

Mobile Record Player

1943: Jimmy Savile launches one of the world’s first DJ dance parties playing jazz records in an upstairs function room.

1947: One of the first people to use twin turntables for continuous play is British DJ and T.V. personality Jimmy Savile, Jimmy pays a metalworker to weld two domestic record decks together for more continuous play at his dance parties in Leeds. This style of ‘twin-deck’ DJing utilising a microphone for talk over becomes industry standard.

1947: The “Whiskey-A-Go-Go” opens in Paris playing popular records, this is considered by some to be the very first disco.

1948: Columbia Records introduce the 12″ vinylite Long Play (LP) 33 rpm microgroove record album at a New York press conference. (often referred to as 33 rpm)

1949: RCA Victor release the first 45 rpm single in response to Columbia, seven inches (7″) in diameter, with a large center hole to accommodate automatic play mechanisms, a stack of singles can drop down one record at a time automatically after each play. Early 45 rpm records are made from either vinyl or polystyrene.

Both types of new disc used narrower grooves, intended to be played with a smaller stylus than the 78 – the new records were sometimes called Microgroove.

Early 45 Player

Early 45 Player

1948 to 1950: Record companies and consumers face uncertainty over which of these formats will prevail in what becomes known as the War of the Speeds.

On a small number of early phonograph systems and radio transcription discs, as well as some entire albums, the direction of the groove is reversed, beginning near the centre of the disc and leading to the outside. Jamaican R&B Sound Systems become popular also.

1950s: By the mid-50s all record companies agree to a common recording standard called RIAA equalization. Prior to this each company uses its own preferred standard, requiring listeners to use preamplifiers with multiple selectable equalization curves.
A number of recordings are pressed at 16 RPM, but these are mostly used for radio transcription discs or narrated publications for the blind, some turntables with a 16 RPM speed setting are produced as late as the 1970s.

The older 78 format continue to be mass produced alongside the newer formats into the 1950s, and in a few countries, such as India, into the 1960s. As late as the 1970s, some childrens records are released at the 78 rpm speed.

Eventually the 12″ 33 rpm LP prevails as the main format for musical albums, and the 7″ 45 rpm disc or single finds it niche as a shorter duration disc, usually containing one song on each side and both in stereo sound. The 45 rpm discs emulate the playing time of the former 78 rpm discs, while the LP discs provided up to one half hour of time per side. The 45 rpm discs also come in a variety known as Extended play (EP) which achieved up to 25 minutes play at the expense of attenuating (and possibly compressing) the sound to reduce the width required by the groove.

60s Record Decks

60s Record Decks

From the mid-1950s through the 1960s, in the US the record player or stereo typically has these features: a three- or four-speed player with changer a combination cartridge with both 78 and microgroove styluses; and some kind of adapter for playing the 45s with their larger center hole. The large center hole on 45s allows for easier handling by jukebox mechanisms. RCA 45s can also be adapted to the smaller spindle of an LP player with a plastic snap-in insert known as a ‘spider‘.

1960-1970s: During the mid 60’s Pirate Radio appears entertaining a younger ‘hipp’ audience.

Beatmatching is invented by Francis Grasso in the late 1960s and early 1970s by counting the tempo with a metronome and looking for records with a similar tempo. Later a mixer is built for him by Alex Rosner which allows him to listen to any channel in the headphones independently of what is playing on the speakers; this becomes the defining feature of DJ mixers. This and turntables with pitch control enable him to mix tracks with different tempos.

Technics 1210 turntable courtesy of Brent K

Technics 1210 turntable courtesy of Brent K

The first Technics SL-1200 turntable is released in 1974, this evolves into the SL-1200MK2, released in 1978, with a comfortable and precise sliding pitch control and high torque direct drive motor makes beat matching easier and turns it into the industry standard among DJs.

Vinyl records remain the DJs choice and a suburb of New York called The Bronx becomes a catalyst for a new musical phenomena hip hop (sometimes referred to as ‘turntablism‘).

DJ Kool Herc starts using two copies of the same record to extend break downs in records during 1973, rappers later toast and rap stories over extended funk and disco breakbeats and in 1977 DJ Grand Wizard Theodore develops scratchingthrough the rewind and Que of the next record, the DJ finds a sound and runs the needle back and forth using the record and turntable to create a scratch noise.

1980s-Present: Vinyl records are superseded by Compact Disc as a popular consumer format, these new formats supposedly reproduce better playback quality and are easier to handle being easily adapted to play in car stereos and Walkmans.

Major record labels almost completely cease to release vinyl records, concentrating more on digital formats but vinyl is kept alive by dance musicians and DJs.

Vinyl Records courtesy of Iyers

Vinyl Records courtesy of Iyers

Some Hi Fi stereos continue to be manufactured with with a turntable on top, electronics manufacturers also continue to develop and improve separate turn tables for record enthusiasts and DJs, the second hand vinyl market remains popular amongst “crate diggers“.

The availability of computers allows digital formats to reign, such as MP3, this leads to a decrease in sales for the CD, however various DJ turntables now appear as hybrids, allowing playback of more than one format.

Several high street chain record stores begin to stock vinyl albums and 7″ singles again with an increasing number of both download and vinyl record stores appearing online.

News stories continue to come and go about the resurgence of vinyl records, and the story of the vinyl record rambles on…

Article originally by Simon Lucas

Vinyl vs Digital Format

60s Record Decks

60s Record Decks

With all the technological advances in audio formats over the last few decades, vinyl is still going strong, record collectors and dance music enthusiasts have been keeping the sound format alive when major record labels lost interest in the late 1980’s.

More recently record labels in Japan, North America and Europe are getting back into the groove by releasing special limited edition Albums and 45 records by popular demand.

Digital is vy far the most popular music format though, today nearly all music sales are download in digital formats, vinyl is still sold and bought by collectors and as special editions, the dance music industry still presses vinyl records although numbers are minute compared to even a decade ago.

Disc Jockey

Tony Blackburn

Tony Blackburn

Disc Jockeys came about in the U.S. during the 1930’s, but beat matching didn’t arrive until the late 1960’s and early 1970’s through people such as Francis Grasso of the Bronx.

One of the first people to use twin turntables for continuous play was British DJ and T.V. personality Jimmy Savile. Jimmy paid a metalworker to weld two domestic record decks together, this was at the very beginning of ‘twin-deck’ DJing, this allowed two records to be played back-to-back continuously at discos.

Hip Hop DJs in New York, took vinyl record play to a new level, with scratching and beat juggling in the 1970’s, vinyl records have since become an intrinsic part of the dance music scene.

Digital Jockey

Digital DJ Console

Digital DJ Console

Some DJs now use laptop computers or purpose built digital modules to mix. Beat Matching software is designed to beat-match, digital tracks with great accuracy.

The software can effectively beat-match for you, if you need it to, some working DJs now openly admit to having never bought a vinyl record in their life.

Some people embrace the new technology 100% for its ease of use, whereas others regard this style as untrue to the roots of DJing, others simply work between vinyl and digital by burning downloaded digital files to CD.

Analog

Vinyl 45 Records

Vinyl 45 Records

Downsides of vinyl include the large amounts of space they take up, the weight, scratches, specks of dust and wear to the disc which can be heard as noise or static. Records should always be placed back in their sleeves avoiding touching the vinyl surface with greasy fingers.

Cd’s that are lightly scratched become totally unplayable and are prone to jumping, whereas vinyl records that are scratched often still play, the CD is just as fragile if not more so than the vinyl record. Record collectors accept light surface noise on certain records as it allows the audio a unique history, and can indicate years of loving play. (Image courtesy of Ian Watkins)

Vinyl can be placed on the turntable in an instant, you can pin point exactly where the needle should fall accessing any part of a song immediately with no forward tracking, there is a physical response from the needle to the groove, through the turntable into the mixer and then into the amp, and then out again through the speakers, 100% analog.

Channels are grooved into the vinyl disc when an original sound’s waveform is recorded. Little audio information is lost. Record players emit sound as analog, they feed directly to the amp with no need for conversion i.e. analog to analog rather than analog to digital and then back to analog.

In an image conscious world, musicians can create detailed artwork and fit large graphics on a record’s jacket, or sleeve. Also, you can choose the colour of the vinyl rather than having to settle for a silver CD or non-tangible MP3, put simply digital formats lack the permanent aesthetic benefits of vinyl records.

Digital

Sound Wave Editor

Sound Wave Editor

MP3s are easy to store on CD or on your P.C., and work for many people as their only sound format. With the development of the I-Pod, portability is digital’s forte. With format tools such as ‘Serato’, digital tracks, can be transfered to a ‘mock’ vinyl disc on a turntable, this can give the appearance and feel, of the digital sound being a traditional vinyl record.

Digital recordings don’t degrade over time, however if your computer is not backed up, any crash or virus that effects the p.c. could result in total loss of your record collection, it’s the equivalent to your house burning down in vinyl terms. Backing up your digital music collection is time consuming but can save you time and money, this will need to be done whenever you upgrade your p.c. Downloading music files can also be stressful, some files may become corrupt or damaged.

MP3s can be burned to disc but CD-Rs often have a much shorter shelf life than both vinyl and normal Cd’s, depending on quality and storage conditions. A down side of MP3 is reduced sound quality. Original sound is analog by definition, vinyl doesn’t sample sound it records it in a natural state as a vibration.

Digital

Digital

Digital recordings take approximate snapshots of an analog signal at a certain rate, this means that, unlike vinyl, a digital recording does not capture the complete soundwave, it makes up the bits in between so you will get a less true sound of the original source.
A stereo, computer or CD player simply converts a digital recording back into an analog signal which is then fed to the amplifier, the amp then increases the voltage of the signal to drive the speaker.

Digital sound is sometimes described as narrow, flat and compressed for these reasons, whereas vinyl is often described as sounding more analog, a deep, rich, wide sound, the qualities of the original recording are more audible on vinyl. However, some vinyl records, especially LPs, can be extremely quiet and will not match up to the ‘fuller’ more compressed sound of digital.

The Future

Hybrid Turntable

Hybrid Turntable

Vinyl’s strength has always been it’s superior sound quality. Dance music DJs and record collectors have helped keep vinyl a cool format. Other music formats and electronics manufacturers, have simply chosen to work with vinyl rather than against it, ensuring the formats longevity.

Record labels are still releasing popular records on vinyl, thin plastic discs remain an appealing part of the music industry, in fact the music industry has built its reputation on them.

Vinyl records will never be as popular as they were in the 1960’s, but if used in conjunction with other modern formats, vinyl will continue to reign as a champion sound format.

Article originally by Simon Lucas

Adele Back In The Studio

Adele

Adele

World famous pop singer ‘Adele’ has has a busy five years since coming to prominence with her album entitled ’19’.

The female talent has since wowed audiences across the globe with her beautiful voice and thought provoking songs, this was reinforced by the subsequent release of her ’21’ album in January 2011.

Since the release of 21 Adele has risen to heady heights of super-diva with airplay on TV and Radio around the world, not to mention the viral hits on YouTube. The young star has cited musical influences such as The Spice Girls and Pink as a teenager, but has taken a more mature role in creating her own musical styles.

Adele had a difficult start in life being raised by her single parent mother, but this has not held Adele back and in fact some would say it has made her stronger and a more impassioned song writer.

Adele has had some setbacks though, her excessive tours and musical performances around the world left the singer with a pretty nasty vocal hemorrhage which has required micro surgery and some intensive rest from singing.

Brit Awards & Back In The Studio

Adele was truly shocked with her great success in the 2012 Brit Awards. The recent Brit Awards highlighted Adele as a fantastic performer when she picked up the award for ‘Mastercard British Album of the Year’ which is widely regarded as the most important award of the ceremony. There was some controversy though when James Corden had to cut the singer off short during her acceptance speech to make way for indie band ‘Blur’ who were waiting to perform.

Brit Award success arrives off the back of Adele being the first solo female artist to have three singles in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time, and the first female artist to have two albums in the top 5 of the Billboard 200 and two singles in the top 5 of the Billboard Hot 100 simultaneously – quite an achievement for the Londoner.

With some reports of Adele taking a break from music making, the media were awaiting news of when the next album would be recorded. On the 14th February 2012, Adele confirmed in her official blog that she would be back in the studio within a week of performing at the 2012 Brit Awards.

For those wanting to find out more, Adele’s website covers official announcements from the pop star.

Article by Simon Lucas

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