History of Technology in Music


This undergraduate, college-level GE textbook is a survey of the technological, cultural, and philosophical forces that have governed music advances across time.

Publisher: Great River Learning

ISBN 9781644961476

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The history of technology’s use in music begins as early as 40,000 years ago, when Paleolithic man created a flute out of a bone from a bird’s wing. Music technology is more than electricity, binary code, recording, or the Internet. It is the long pattern of humankind observing our surroundings and finding ways to adapt them in order to produce an organized set of sounds we call music. Music’s definition and value changes over the centuries, across societies, and in response to technological advances. This book is a survey of those musical, cultural, and philosophical forces that have governed these advances across time.

In this course:

  • Students will develop an understanding of the role of physics, acoustics, and technology in music throughout history
  • Students will understand the cultural and philosophical forces that underlie technological innovation
  • Students will become familiar with ways in which technologies influence society in both expected and unexpected ways
  • Students will become familiar with a broad range of music through the ages, from several traditions
  • Students will become familiar with important historical debates about the role of technology – debates that continue to this day


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