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With the exception of orchestral performances and truly "unplugged" concerts, today's music has evolved into a very hi-tech industry. It takes elements from many disciplines, including computer science, electrical and mechanical engineering, mathematics, and physics. Because music technology encompasses everything from audio compression and encoding to advanced sound equipment, this Topic in Depth has quite a broad scope.A decent introduction to some aspects of music technology (1) mainly deals with sound recording. It covers topics such as sampling, sequencing, and FM synthesis. Some of this material is also explained on this site (2); however, there are a couple articles that address current issues. One discusses the popular and controversial MP3 audio compression standard, while the other considers how the Internet effects musicians and the music culture as a whole. The Music Technology Group at a university in Barcelona, focuses on a variety of audio processing and analysis principles. Over ten years of research papers, journal publications, and other documents can be downloaded from the group's home page (3). A similar organization at the University of York maintains this page on 3-D audio and ambisonics (4). There are several sections that describe the basics of ambisonics and provide suggestions for experimentation, as well as a couple of papers on surround sound systems and other research projects. The current dominant music media format is the compact disc, which has enjoyed tremendous success for many years. This site (5) explains how CD players work by listing and answering many common questions about CD operation. Loris, a project of the CERL Sound Group, is an open source application used to process digitized sounds. A number of publications and several demonstrations of sound morphing are given on the Loris home page (6). Although the MP3 standard was the breakthrough that allowed music to be highly compressed for easy storage and transmission, a new standard, appropriately dubbed MPEG-4, could soon replace the aging technology. This news article (7), from November 22, 2002, outlines the audio and video capabilities of MPEG-4 and discusses some hotly contended licensing issues. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab has created a robotic disc jockey that randomly selects records and mixes them on turntables. Beyond 2000 (8) reports on the DJ I Sound System and how it works.
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