Katie Fox analyses the development of music through The Beatles
Music, like many other things in our modern world, is constantly changing. New technology allows for cleaner edits and previously unheard sounds. Classic albums, like Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, have been remastered, perhaps to suit a generation of listeners that are used to the sharp cuts you find nowadays across streaming platforms like Soundcloud and Spotify. There will always be a debate of whether or not this is the right thing to do with albums that are so iconic, but whether you agree or disagree with the concept of altering how an album sounds, cleaning up the edit to suit the updated sounds from modern technology is no bad thing.
Additionally, before the 50s and 60s, all music was recorded in mono (this means that the sound is equal through all speakers). The development of Stereo FM radio in the 60s, meant that rock and pop were revolutionized, giving us multiple channels, making it feel like the band are in the room with you as the lead vocals play from the opposite side to the lead guitar, for example. Personally, I prefer the recent remix by Giles Martin, the son of the former Beatles member. The lead guitar is in the forefront of your right ear, while the bass is in your left, and the vocals remain generally centered. This is not unlike the original, but with a cleaner sound, and far more preferable to that of the 2009 remaster, where all of the audio jumps between the left and right channels, making the track quite disorientating to listen to.
With cheap streaming services giving access to an infinite number of songs, listeners and producers are able to explore a greater range of sounds
Naturally, the way music is consumed today is very different to the era of the Beatles, where fans waited eagerly for new album releases and sat and listened to the tracks in full on vinyl. With cheap streaming services giving access to an infinite number of songs, listeners and producers are able to explore a greater range of sounds. Music in today’s digital age is a minefield of samples and remixes. Producers and artists can take an original track, cut it up, and add their own edge to it, or sample well known verses into newer sounds. B.o.B’s ‘Lonely People’ is an example of this, with a sped up intro sampling the famous track from the Beatles, blending into a rap over the recognizable melody. This may seem like an odd mix of genres – modern RnB and the era defining rock from the Beatles, but it is in fact becoming more and more common.
Why are artists doing this? Anything that is instantly recognisable as a hit from the past, mixed with a modern style that suits the different genre preferences of today, is guaranteed to draw more attention. While a drum and bass remix of ‘Come Together’ sounds horrifying to the more musically stubborn, Urban Dawn and Tyson Kelly’s remix of the much-loved classic excites those who want a recognizable song at a party or on a night out, that is adapted to today’s trends.