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5-8/9-12 From Four Tracks to Break Beats: Music & Technology Print Page




From Four Tracks to Break Beats: Music & Technology

Suggested Grade Level: 5-8 / 9-12

This research guide serves as a resource for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's Education Department course, From Four Tracks to Break Beats: Music & Technology. For additional information on the course and for more teacher resources, see

Since the 1950s, rock and roll has been shaped by the craft and artistry of songwriters and performers who use innovative music technology to significantly impact the sound of music.  In this class, we will see how Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees have used technology to record, manipulate and create the ever-changing sounds of popular music.  Students take part in in-depth discussions of the earliest tape recorders used by Sam Phillips at Sun Records and the hip-hop beats used by MC Roxanne Shanté.  This class includes several live demonstrations in which students analyze the impact of music technology on a given sound.  Don’t miss this chance to gain insight into the world of music production in a variety of styles – from rock to hip-hop.


Search the Catalog

Click here for search tips and how to use the catalog!

Search Tips

Our catalog has a subject category for "Inductee." If you enter this term in the search box and choose "Subject" in the dropdown box, you will retrieve information on our resources that are related to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees.

Limit your search by using the facets on the left of your screen in the library catalog, i.e. Format:

- Book
- Archival Collection
- Archival Item
- Audio
- Video
- Score
- Periodical
- Map



    These research databases can be accessed within the Library and Archives.

    • Entertainment Industry Magazine Archive
      An archival research resource containing the essential primary sources for studying the history of the film and entertainment industries, from the era of vaudeville and silent movies through to 2000. The core US and UK trade magazines covering film, music, broadcasting and theater are all included, together with film fan magazines and music press titles. Magazines have been scanned cover-to-cover in high-resolution color, with granular indexing of all articles, covers, ads and reviews.
    • Music Online
      Music Online is the broadest and most comprehensive online music resource that cross-searches all of the Alexander Street Press music databases. These include African American Music Reference, American Song, Contemporary World Music, the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music Online, Jazz Music Library, Smithsonian Global Sound, and more.
    • Safari Tech Books Online
      This database offers electronic books relating to a multitude of subjects, but music specific resources include copyright, the music business, and the recording industry.
    • Music Index
      A comprehensive guide to music periodicals and literature featuring digitized content from 1970 to present. Contains cover-to-cover indexing and abstracts of articles about music, musicians, and the music industry for more than 480 periodicals, as well as book reviews, obituaries, news, and selective coverage for more than 200 periodicals. Comprehensive coverage of the music field makes Music Index an invaluable resource for both scholar and novice.

    For Your Students

    Hi-Fi - W. E. Butterworth
    Call Number: TK7881.4 .B87 1977
    Discusses the technical evolution of sound reproduction equipment and the people responsible for the various developments.


    Rock Hall Video: Interviews

    Carol Kaye

    Arif Mardin


    These resources, pulled from class discussion and selected from the Library and Archives' collections, will help you to:

    • Identify ways that artists have used recording technology to capture live performances and to create the various components of musical sound.
    • Describe how the use of multi-track recording technology, the synthesizer, and sampling opened new avenues for experimentation with musical instruments, composition, and sound engineering.
    • Give examples of ways that a computer enables musicians to play, create, and store music on computers


    Cover Art
    Audio Mixing Boot Camp - Bobby Owsinski
    Call Number: TK7881.4 .O97 M5 2011
    Built around a series of hands-on mixing exercises designed to show you how to listen and work like a pro, best-selling author Bobby Owsinski reveals the tips, tricks, and secrets to all the different facets of mixing, including instrument and vocal balance, panning, compression, EQ, reverb, delay, and making your mix as interesting as possible.

    Cover Art
    Audio Recording Boot Camp - Bobby Owsinski
    Call Number: TK7881.4 .O97 R4 2012
    Built around a series of hands-on recording exercises designed to show you how to listen and work like a recording pro, best-selling author Bobby Owsinski reveals the tips, tricks, and secrets to all the different facets of recording---including miking a drum kit, recording vocals, and miking just about any electric or acoustic instrument.

    Cover Art
    Less Noise, More Soul - David Flitner
    Call Number: ML3790 .L477 2013
    Less Noise, More Soul: The Search for Balance in the Art, Technology, and Commerce of Music brings together original essays by a select group of industry professionals, many of them award winners, who share a wealth of experience, passion, and insight into where popular music has been, where it currently finds itself, and where its going.

    Cover Art
    The Music Tech Dictionary - Mitch Gallagher
    Call Number: ML102.E4 G35 2009
    "The Music Tech Dictionary" provides the definitive glossary of music technology and pro audio topics and terms. It focuses on the terminology, techniques, and formats that are common in the audio and music technology field, and offers concise, pithy explanations of what each term represents. Users will be able to look up any music software, music technology, or audio related term they run across in their software, in articles, or in studios, for a short, complete overview.

    Cover Art
    Playback - Mark Coleman
    Call Number: ML3790 .C644 2005
    Playback is the first book to place the fascinating history of sound reproduction within its larger social, economic, and cultural context-and includes appearances by everyone from Thomas Edison to Enrico Caruso to Dick Clark to Grandmaster Flash to Napster CEO Shawn Fanning.

    Cover Art
    Sound Recording - David Morton
    Call Number: TK7881.4 .M67S6 2004
    Just as styles of music have evolved, so too have the formats through which sound has been captured—from 78s to LPs, LPs to cassette tapes, tapes to CDs, and on to electronic formats. The quest for better sound has certainly driven technological change, but according to David L. Morton, so have business strategies, patent battles, and a host of other factors.

    Cover Art
    Sound Unbound - Paul D. Miller
    Call Number: ML3918.P67 S68M55 2008
    In Sound Unbound, Rhythm Science author Paul Miller aka DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid asks artists to describe their work and compositional strategies in their own words. These are reports from the front lines on the role of sound and digital media in an information-based society.

    Cover Art
    Sun Records - Colin Escott
    Call Number: ML3792.S86 E73 1980

    Cover Art
    Wall of sound : the very best of Phil Spector, 1961-1966
    Call Number: CD SPEC-P WALL 2011
    ISBN: 9780141912080



    Cover Art
    Tom Dowd & the language of music - Mark Moormann
    Call Number: DVD DOWD TOM 2003
    Profiles the life and work of music producer/recording engineer Tom Dowd. Featuring music and appearances by Les Paul, Eric Clapton, John Coltrane, Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Ornette Coleman and other musical luminaries


    Inductee Spotlight: Tom Dowd

    Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum curatorial director Howard Kramer discusses Tom Dowd's career. Dowd was among the 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class of Inductees.

    Archival Resources

    New to Archives? Check out:

    • John Fry Interview. (in 2 parts)
      In this Rock Hall program, record producer John Fry of Ardent Studios in Memphis, Tenn., talks about the city's music scene including live music, recording, production, and radio, during the early years of rock and roll in the 1950s--particular attention is paid to Memphis-based labels Sun and Stax. He also discusses his career as a record producer, working with prominent figures of rock and roll like ZZ Top, and new technologies for production. Following the interview, Fry gives a brief tour of his studio.
    • ARC-0002 Sire Records Collection
      The Sire Records Collection documents two distinct eras of the record company founded by Seymour Stein. The first era dates from 1966 to 1980 and consists of hundreds of audiotapes from Sire’s recording sessions. The music genres documented on these tapes include blues, progressive rock, and punk rock. Artists include the Climax Blues Band, the Dead Boys, Flamin’ Groovies, Richard Hell, and the Stanky Brown Group. The second era of Sire Records began when the company became part of Warner Brothers, and this part of the collection contains artist and business files that date from 1976 to 1994. These files primarily contain correspondence regarding contracts and recordings and often include promotional materials such as photographs. The two musical genres best represented in the files are new wave and pop.
    • ARC-0011 Gold Star Recording Studios
      The Gold Star Recording Studios Records consist of documents and recordings related to the operation of the studio, which was most active during the 1950s and 1960s. The collection includes a lease for the studio, as well as records of business transactions, recording session log sheets, audio recordings, and architectural plans for the studios and its control rooms. The records provide insight to the operation of an independent recording studio. The architectural plans are especially noteworthy, as the special construction of the studios and equipment made possible Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound" technique.
    • ARC-0251 Collection on Bob Leefe
      The collection spans the years 1970-1977 and consists of six photographs of recording engineer Bob Leefe, one CD of his recordings, and several clippings.
    • ARC-0307 Tom Dowd and the Language of Music Poster
      Tom Dowd and the Language of Music Poster is from 2003. The film profiles the life and legendary work of music producer and recording engineer Tom Dowd. Historical footage, vintage photographs, and interviews with a who's who list of musical giants from the worlds of jazz, soul, and classic rock shine a spotlight on Dowd, whose creative spirit and passion for innovative technology helped shape the course of modern music. Dowd's credits include recording sessions with the Allman Brothers Band, Booker T. and the MG's, Ray Charles, Eric Clapton, John Coltrane, Cream, Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Thelonious Monk, Tito Puente, Otis Redding, Rod Stewart, and countless other musical luminaries--many of whom are featured in the film through music and interviews.

    Rock Hall Video: In the Museum

    Jimi Hendrix's Mixing Console

    Depeche Mode's Synthesizer

    Record Players

    The Les Paul Guitar

    YouTube Videos

    Kraftwerk, "Trans-Europe Express," live at Roskilde Festival, July 7, 2013

    Kangol Kid and Roxanne Shante, "Roxanne, Roxanne" / "Roxanne's Revenge" / "Have A Nice Day," Central Park

    Depeche Mode, "Just Can't Get Enough"
    Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum | Library and Archives
    2809 Woodland Avenue | Cleveland, OH 44115 | 216.515.1956 |

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