The Speed of Sound

(Groovy Baby)

The ways in which music has come into my life has varied and changed over the years and in recent times somewhat dramatically. This was brought home to me when a school student on work experience at the radio station asked me how music is transmitted from a long playing record to the speakers. I’ve never been the most technical person in the world but I did my best to explain how the stylus, or needle, sits in the groove of a record which then transmits the sound to an amplifier then onto the speakers. He sat looking on in fascination and seemed particularly captivated to see me stop the record, turn it over and begin playing the other side. I’d never had to analyse the process in quite this way before. Later that morning I had to draw on his experience to show me how to add a play list to my iPod, and I could see in his face and in the tone of his voice that he took pleasure from explaining the process to me in such precise detail. It made me smile to think that we’d both learned something from each others generation purely because we had a desire for knowledge outside of a classroom or home environment. vinylWho would have thought that all those years of simply buying records to play on a small mono record player would one day fascinate a young man from the future? Before my time youngsters of my parents generation might listen to music at a speed of 78 rpm or revolutions per minute. My music arrived at a speed of 45 rpm or 331/3 rpm. Today’s sounds appear in a digital instant. Incidentally, for those interested in a precise definition, I quote: ‘A gramophone record (American phonograph record) or vinyl record, commonly known as a “record”, is an analogue sound storage medium in the form of a flat polyvinyl chloride (previously shellac) disc with an inscribed, modulated spiral groove’.


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