What do you think of when someone says the word vinyl? Vintage, old fashioned, crackley, retro. These are just a few words used to describe vinyls by young music listeners today. Some didn’t know what a vinyl was, others knew because they’d heard their parents talk about them. But have you ever listened to one? Have you ever listened to your favourite song through a record player, hearing the needle find its familiar spot on the groove of the record with a buzz and crackle, building anticipation and excitement before the melody and lyrics ring out?
Many of you will have grown up ripping music online or illegally downloading it through torrent websites or streaming it. But what can you do with a vinyl that you can’t do with a download? Hold it. Feel the imprints of the song along the outside of the record, look at the album artwork close up and frame it, get out the lyric sheet from the booklet inside the vinyl cover and read the words you may have missed when listening first time.
Things sound different on a vinyl; the song comes to life, it has a warming authenticity which requires you to interact with it as you have to turn it over to hear the other songs on the album when the first five tracks are finished. By needing to engage with the physicality of turning a record over, it requires you listen, and to not ‘multitask’ (i.e. putting it the machine and popping off to do something else, expecting it to play until you turn it off). And now, the excitement of holding a vinyl record in your hand, putting it on the turntable and sitting with a friend listening to it together is back in fashion.
Vinyl sales are on the rise – some say by a 50% increase. Only a few years ago it looked as though vinyl would become obsolete. Vinyl records had been overtaken by cassette tapes, which were subsequently superseded by compact discs (CDs) in the early 1980s, which was then ousted by mini discs, which was then overshadowed by iPods. The trend? The more portable, the better. The iPod boasted of having over 2,000 songs which you could listen to anytime, anywhere with earbud headphones. But what has the iPod done for the listening experience to music? Can you really hear the emotion of the song through tiny headphones on noisy trains or tubes or has music become a means of blocking out daily life?
It poses the question – how and why do you listen to music? What do you think, if any, are the sonic differences between vinyl and digital music? Do you have a record player? If so what is in your collection? Tweet us at @songacademyuk and or Instagram us a photo of your records.
And if you want to add to your record collection, check out this link for the recommended vinyl stores in the uk: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/rockandpopmusic/10954342/The-coolest-record-stores-in-Britain.html