Whenever someone thinks about musical technology, it is hard to ignore the amazing revolution that has taken place in the personal way that we have listened to music over the years. People that are in their fifties now grew up as teenagers listening to their favourite musical groups and singers on records. If they had a particularly expensive model, then they could set the record player on repeat, so that their best loved albums could play over and over again.
But before long, a new way of listening to music appeared, and it made the listening experience a lot more personal. Instead of listening to a record, there was a cassette. This strange little box made it possible for a person to slot it into a cassette player, and listen to the music with headphones. Suddenly a musical experience that could be shared, could now be a highly individualised experience.
We’ve seen the rise and potential fall of the CD, and now we appear to be in the age of the iPod. Music that can appear and disappear at the touch of a finger, rather than the push of a button. Whether you sit on a train, or walk down a street, almost every single person that you see will have headphones plugged into their ears, enjoying a performance intended for one.
It sometimes feels as if we have lost something, now that we have made it possible for just one person to listen to a piece of music. Surely the greatest enjoyment with music is that it can be shared. That is what made the jukebox so great, and why over the years, although other ways of listening to music has come and gone, the jukebox remains. There is nothing like listening to a great song on a jukebox with your best friends.
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