Understanding Recording and Production Technology

As part of studying for and teaching the Edexcel A Level Music Technology course, it is important that students develop their knowledge of chronology and different recording media.

In the specification, it states that students are required to develop knowledge and understanding of the history and development of recording and production technology, from current digital technologies back to the mono, analogue recording technologies in the 1930s, through the following eras:

  • Digital audio workstations (DAW) and emerging technologies (c.1996 – present day)
  • Digital recording and sequencing (c.1980 – present day)
  • Large-scale analogue multitrack (c.1969 – 1995)
  • Early multitrack recording (c.1964 – 1969)
  • Direct to tape mono recording (c.1930 – 1963)

Thus, it is useful to start with the following key developments in recording technology, and that students revisit this as part of their revision for the Edexcel A Level Music Technology course.

It would also be beneficial to focus on the following developments in recording technology, and to place these into context when listening to music.

  • Phonautograph / wax cylinder / phonograph / player pianos (pre 1900)
  • Gramophones / 78s (pre 1900) (for context)
  • Development of early tape / microphone / amplification technology (1910 – )
  • LP / Vinyl (late 1940s)
  • Stereo / microphone design (1950s)
  • Multitrack tape – knowledge of 4 / 8 / 16 / 24 tracks (1960s – )
  • Cassette tape (1960s)
  • Effects and processing / experimentation (1960s / 1970s)
  • CD (1980s)
  • Digital and computer-based studios (1990s)
  • MP3 / Napster (early 2000s)
  • iTunes / iPod (mid-2000s)
  • ‘The Cloud’ / streaming facilities (2010 – )

For each bit of technology consider:

  • Technical capabilities created
  • Impact on music and recording
  • First proponents (if applicable)

Good luck with your revision and study in A Level Music Technology!

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