Technology is ubiquitous. Thus it is hardly surprising that it has had a profound influence on the art of music in the twentieth century. It has altered how music is transmitted, preserved, heard, performed, and composed. Less and less often do we hear musical sound that has not at some level been shaped by technology: technology is involved in the reinforcement of concert halls, the recording and broadcast of music, and the design and construction of musical instruments. Many church organs, for example, now use synthesized or sampled sounds rather than actual pipes; instruments are now available that have what look like piano keyboards and make what sound like piano timbres, but which are actually dedicated digital synthesizers; virtuoso performers whose instrument is the turntable are now part of not only the world of disco but also the world of concert music (John Zorn, for example, has written a piece for voice, string quartet, and turntables).1 Technology is changing the essence of music, although many musicians still do not appreciate the extent of its influence.

Technology came to music with the advent of recordings. Thomas Edison invented a crude cylinder phonograph in 1877. By the end of the nineteenth century, companies in the United States and England were manufacturing disc recordings of music. Prior to recordings, home consumption of all music-whether composed for keyboard or not-was by means of private piano performance. The possibility of preserving musical performances by recording utterly changed the social and artistic meanings of music. The invention of the tape recorder a half century later made sonorities not only reproducible but also alterable. The resulting techniques allowed recorded sounds to be fragmented, combined, distorted, etc. Such manipulations could affect not only sound qualities but also timespans. By changing recording speeds, for example, a composer of musique concert could compress a Beethoven symphony into a single second or make a word last an hour.