The Portability of Sound

Music is precious to the ear and the way we hear it has changed so drastically. Technology has served us well in the audio department, especially in the digital age. A huge difference has been made in the way we access our tunes. Remember when you were thrilled to first have portable speakers in your dorm room, office, or in the lab. But things evolved into what we have today. The “miniaturization” of everything has really come in handy. Small stuff can be toted around in bags, pockets, and backpacks, and it doesn’t take up much space. Quality varied in the early days, but now you can have the best of all worlds.

Most people have a playlist and a long array of personal preferences. We keep adding to it, shuffling, mixing, and combining in novel ways. It’s fun, creative, relaxing, and passes idle time. We are our own personal DJ, crafting enjoyment with our particular taste. We get ideas from others, from browsing around, and surfing the net. We have easy download and cheaper expenses to boot. It is a heyday for the consumer, while not for the artist. What on earth would we do without music always in the air? The world would be a quiet, dreary place to be sure.

My dad tells me he had these enormously large speakers that boomed proficiently. It was cool and it was status all the way. Once you set up your system, it was fairly immobile. This was well before the onset of smart phones, iPads, and Bluetooth technology. He didn’t want to lug a lot of stuff around, so sometimes he had to make do without. It was a hit or miss proposition getting all the right gear to fit in all the right places.

Music plays a big role in our lives. When we are little, we latch on to familiar, catchy tunes. They fill our minds even when we are away from them. Memory is aural, too, not just visual as in dreams. We get older and become teens. Then music is practically a cause. We build our play lists and populate our iPods happily. We share with others via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. We are all connected by sound. It is ever more portable and an ever-present life companion.

Years ago our college backpacks were full of cassettes and these little mini players with tiny speakers in the earphones. They took just one cassette at a time unlike our home or office devices. (We won’t even mention beta tapes.) They rattled around at the bottom of the bags awaiting a hand to bring them out for inspection. Heaven forbid the tapes should get tangled. It was a major chore to restore them. Sometimes it was just impossible and we had to buy more. You could also make your own mix and exchange them with friends. It was a social pleasure we had long before social media.

We labeled them with pen and ink and sometimes grouped them with rubber bands around them: rock and heavy metal in one bunch, light rock in another, classical in one more, and blues on its own. Later it came down to slick, thin CDs that were oh so modern. You could stack them up and they had cool covers that identified each one. They were printed on the sides so no messy hand lettering was necessary. Now it is all about smart phones, iTunes, iPods, and tablets. Our platforms give us music in many new ways. We carry around music in an easier way, one of the great benefits of the advanced 21st century electronic era. Everyone has their own system, but we still share titles and ideas, plus info on artists and gigs.

As adults, we fondly remember our youth and never forget those favorite lyrics and tunes. They say this becomes the music of your life and that it stays forever with you. Sure, you pay attention to what is new and popular, but the old stuff has a special place in our hearts. We get on in years, and nothing changes. So take heed. Make the most of your salad days and drench yourself in all the wonderful music that is our there for the taking.

Posted under Music