Tag Archives: music

Music Technology and the Vinyl Resurgence

By Colin Halliburton

My first LP was A Night at the Opera (1975) by Queen. When I sat down to listen and enjoy the album, I understood why they are still around. Interacting with the physical versions of my favorite albums created a more in-depth experience, with more character and soul. Before I had first encountered vinyl records, I thought they were nothing more than old tech, something we had created CD’s and streaming to replace.

Music has been a constant and recurring source of entertainment throughout history, but the way music has been captured and enjoyed has changed drastically. Vinyl records were first invented and released in 1930 as a way to record and listen to music and audio outside of a live performance. This brought music and joy to many homes across the world, and that continues today. Over the decades since new technologies have been invented, and the record’s purpose has changed.

In the 90’s vinyl records experienced a sharp decline, partly because record labels/corporations became stricter with their buyback policies, which many record stores relied on to keep a rotating stock of popular items. They also stopped releasing many of their albums on vinyl, and closed some pressing plants. Many saw this as a ploy to get consumers to buy more CDs, which were more profitable for the corporations.

However since 2007, vinyl sales and general popularity have been on the rise, passing CDs once again in the first half of 2020. Almost in spite of the meteoric rise of streaming services (currently the cheapest way by far to listen to music), vinyl continues to grow. Many audiophiles or anyone else who appreciates sound quality often prefer vinyl records to digital streaming, because of the compression.

Revenues by Format (1)
Courtesy of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)

They are also very popular for collecting. Many (including myself) find the artwork and physical disc of music alluring and captivating. A lot of record sleeves come with previously unseen photographs or art, and some record discs even have art on them. In a few rare cases there is vinyl exclusive music on them as well. For example on Tyler the Creator’s 2019 album IGOR (Columbia), the song BOYFRIEND is only available on vinyl, making it a more fulfilling listen.

The almost therapeutic process of sorting through record bins to find a specific album or even anything that catches my eye is addicting. It’s also just like any other collection hobby where building the collection, seeing the shelves full of your favorite albums is enough for a lot of people. The nostalgia factor is also attractive, as vinyls are a way for many to relive their memories.

The Flaming Lips’ album Heady Fwends on hand-splattered Vinyl (via cdcentralmusic.com)

Interestingly, despite Hip-Hop/R&B being by far the most popular genre in streaming numbers (29.8% of all streams across platforms in the U.S. as of 2021, via Headphone addict) and just pop culture in general, Rock dominates the vinyl market with a staggering 41.7% of US sales as of 2018 (according to Statista). This further shows that a lot of the vinyl LP’s popularity comes from nostalgia and tradition.

For me, I have always loved music, and I think my dad fostered that love by always playing music around me and encouraging me to learn to play it. When we got a record player for Christmas a few years ago, the records really felt like a more tangible way to listen to music. To feel, see, and hold my favorite albums in front of me. Of course streaming and modern technology has its benefits of being less expensive, easier, and quicker to use, but for when you just want to really enjoy the music and have the time, I find records to be the perfect medium.

Some of my favorite albums to leave you with, along with the aforementioned IGOR, are: Gorillaz’ synth heavy statement on modern consumerism in 2010’s Plastic Beach (Warner/Parlaphone); Pink Floyd’s classic 1979 concept rock album The Wall (Columbia); the rare, limited, and sample-filled French Exit by Tv Girl in 2014 (Self); Childish Gambino’s modern soul/R&B of 2018’s “Awaken my love!” (Glassnote); the classic funk/soul of The Beginning of the End’s 1971 album Funky Nassau (Alston); and the technical jazz of Clifford Brown and Max roach on 1955’s Study in Brown (EmArcy).

From the author's collection

From left to right: Study in Brown, “Awaken my Love!”, IGOR, The Wall, and Plastic Beach

Fonies Rock Winter Ball

Ms. Asha Hickok

We’ve all seen those coming-of-age high school movies with the prom set up in a large high school gym. Neon colored balloons and streamers frame the scene and, most prominent, set up on a stage, front and center, is a band playing hit music.

Although CVU’s Winter Ball does not take place in the gym, nor is the venue typically decked out in neon balloons and streamers, the Winter Ball is headlined by a band.


Typically, CVU employs Top Hat Entertainment to play a variety of upbeat and slow pop songs. Top Hat Entertainment is a popular entertainment company in Vermont that is typically hired to DJ weddings, school dances and other private functions. 

This year, the CVU Winter Ball provides a mix of traditional DJing and live music from a well-known student band, Fonies.

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Sons of Pitches Rock Out for Senior Class

Mssrs. Christopher T. O’Brien and Mr. Jacob C. Griggs

On Friday, May 12, the Sons of Pitches put on a show to help fund raise for the 2017 senior class.  

The concert was held in the CVU auditorium. The group of acapella singers were able to bring in $600 in one night of performing. With a big crowd to support the singers, they provided entertainment for the night.  

Image by Jennifer Lucey

CVU Senior and one of the leaders of the group, Nate Shanks, explained his thoughts on the event,  “It was a good way to get the student body and the public together to enjoy the night. It was also nice to see a big team effort from a bunch of different people.”

Another vocalist for the Sons of Pitches, senior Max Pudvar, said “We exceeded our own expectations for how the performance would go. It was awesome doing a collaboration with Urban dance and Rick (aka Hip Hop) I think everyone who attended enjoyed themselves and got their money’s worth.”

The crowd seemed to be pleased with the concert, stated CVU senior Hannah Munn. “I really love the courage and strength that they had during the concert.  Not going to lie it hit me straight in the soul when they sang Hallelujah.  This was also a great way to unify the class and bring in money.”  

Image by Jennifer Lucey

Although the acapella group sang throwbacks, they also sang newer songs like Gold Digger by Kanye West and Magic by BOB.

The $600 that were raised was from a one to five dollar donation upon entry. Michelle Fongemie, Laurie Gunn and an anonymous donor who attended the concert generously donated $100.

Here’s the full performance, if you dare:


“Backstage Pass” — An in Depth Look at the People of Rock ‘n’ Roll

Mr. Isaac Cleveland

HINESBURG, VT – It has been around 60 years since Rock ‘n’ Roll began, a genre that brought change, helped desegregate the US, and created a new groove for the Baby Boomer generation to “get down” to. The number of artists that represent the Rock sounds of the ‘60s to the ‘90s is almost too many to count, ranging from Elvis Presley to The Beatles to Jimi Hendrix to

Image Courtesy of Containerlist.glaserarchives.org
Image Courtesy of Containerlist.glaserarchives.org

Aerosmith, and this is only naming a few of the many music geniuses that influenced the American people.

Many people know these artists’ music by heart, yet their life outside of the spotlight is far from well-known. Shelburne Museum’s newest exhibition, “Backstage Pass,” shows the famous artists of the era in a new light, depicting the emotions and the activities of the musicians offstage. The photographs display an extremely important peace of our culture and history, celebrating the people who changed the world through music.

The exhibition consists of over 200 photographs, either B&W or color prints, ranging from the influencers of Rock ‘n’ Roll such as Miles Davis, to the style and nonconformity of David Bowie.

Though Bill Haley and the Comets may be the official start of the Rock & Roll era, Elvis Presley was debatably one of the most influential characters of the time. According to Rolling Stone magazine, “Elvis Presley was rock & roll’s first real star, not to mention one of the most important cultural forces in history, a hip-shaking symbol of liberation for the staid America of the 1950s.” Albert Wertheimer’s “Elvis Kiss” photograph is seen in the exhibit. This photograph almost represents America’s love of Elvis, in his “looks,” his music, and his incredible stage presence.

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time to do homework? time to turn up the tunes

Ms. Olivia Cottrell

Music while studying, doing homework, or doing classwork is a highly debated topic. Does it help you focus more, or does it distract you more? Some think that if you are on your phone, you are more apt to start playing games or browsing Instagram. To others, music makes everything about working, either on homework or on other things, far better. Experts have studied the effects of music in many aspects of daily life such as: how it affects stress levels, how music generally affects the human body, and can help you while working out. Overall, if a student feels that music is helping them, it may be beneficial to them, not the hazard most people think it is.


Unfortunately, music while studying continues to be a topic of conflict both in and out of the classroom. According to a piece published by Uloop in January, 2015, many studies have been able to come to the same conclusion; listening to music before studying may be able to help in a variety of ways. It can improve attention span, memory, and even the ability to do mental math. Music is also known to help lessen depression and anxiety, both of which have been shown to be at very high levels in high school age students.

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Friday Music Series Serenades Students Between Classes

Ms. Taylor Murphy

Friday, 9:45. Students sit in tension as they wait to be dismissed from their first class. As the bell rings to signal the end of first block, students rush into the halls heading to their advisories. Out of nowhere the intercom comes to life, and music starts to play throughout the school. Students are confused at first, but eventually everyone has a pleasant, happy expression, contrary to the normal post-first-block daze. The music comes to and end at the start of second block, and everyone heads to their next class.

This music is not random; music Fridays are becoming a weekly happening at CVU. Between each block, the song of an advisory’s choice will be played over the intercom. (The song choice must be school appropriate, of course.) Each week a new advisory will be chosen to pick the playlist.

The Gibbs advisory was the first to participate in the new Music Fridays. Kathleen Gibbs and her advisees chose classic hits from bands such as Pink Floyd and AC DC that surely resonated with staff, sending them back to the glory days.

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Fashion over Function: Why Bother with Headphones?

Mr. Jack Reynolds

As technology advances, we see every generation of electronics becoming smaller than the last. A cell phone used to be a suitcase-sized burden, but now an iPhone fits in your pocket and has more computing power than the Apollo 11 spacecraft. Early computers used to consume whole rooms, but now are paper thin and lightning fast. This trend seems to span across most technology, especially anything meant for on-the-go use. So why is it, that when it comes to listening to music, people turn to huge, unwieldy headphones?

Personally, I’ve found earbuds to work just as well, and although a cheap set of headphones is probably nicer than a cheap pair of earbuds, the quality really starts to split from the price as cost rises. If ones spends $100 on earbuds, they’ll get a product that is at the upper end of the spectrum, and provides great sound. On the other hand, $100 headphones will be closer to the bottom of the totem pole.

As an avid listener to all types of music, I respect the need for DJs to have massive headphones, or artists who need to use them in the studio, but these are really the only cases where it makes sense to have massive speakers held to either side of your head. For the casual listener, it really doesn’t make sense to schlep around these unwieldy devices day in, day out.

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Music to their Ears: the Science on Sound and Study

Mr. Charles Yarwood

Music is a defining presence in our world. It’s prevalent in every culture we’ve ever studied, it’s essential to our movies and TV shows; it constitutes a $130 billion dollar industry, and it has many other roles in our day-to-day life. The effects and potential music holds is not well understood, and what we do understand is misrepresented.

I personally love music; I play several instruments, and you can almost always find me listening to music. In school, listening to music is understandably condoned. The point of school is to learn, often times by spoken word, but the prevalence of portable music and headphones has forced teachers to work around this potential obstacle. It’s fairly commonplace to see students listening to music in the halls, during work time, and during tests. I interviewed several CVU staff members and reached out to students at surrounding schools to find out what their thoughts were on listening to music and if other schools in the state had similarly lax policies as CVU does on listening to music during school. I then conducted my own research to see what might be discovered about scientific findings on the effects of music on learning and cognition.

 CVU employs a policy around music that lets teachers to decide if allowing students to listen to music would be conducive to learning and test-taking. I interviewed 35 CVU teachers across all departments about their class rules about listening to music during independent work time and test taking, in addition to what effects they observe when students listen to music. In the independent work part of the survey, 62.9% of teachers report that they let their students select their own music to listen to, 17.1% play music on classroom speakers, but don’t allow students to listen to their personal music; and 20% don’t allow music of any kind. In the testing section of the survey, 28.6% of teachers allow students to select their own music, with 71.4% of teachers not allowing music of any kind.

 Teachers report a wide range of effects of music on students, which lead them to their decisions on allowing or disallowing music. The Teachers that allowed music during work time cite reasons such as it helping students focus by blocking out classroom noise, relax students, gives them a choice, making them feel like their opinions are valid; relieve stress, and boost creativity. The teachers who don’t allow music during work time cite reasons of having to use a smartphone, which leads to texting and other distractions; selecting the “right” song takes too long, music getting played too loudly, students missing something due to music, making the music a social event by sharing earbuds, and watching music videos instead of working. The teachers that allowed their students to listen to music while they take tests cited similar reasons as to when they work: better focus, stress relief, and relaxation during the anxiety-ridden testing periods. There are seventeen teachers who allow music during work time but not during tests; there are three major reasons for this. The first reason is concerns over academic honesty. When a student is “choosing a song” the teachers can’t be sure their students aren’t looking up answers. The second reason is some of the teachers teach AP classes, and music isn’t allowed on AP tests. The teachers want to create as similar an environment to the actual AP test as possible, so music isn’t allowed. The third reason is some teachers allow music during work time to help students focus by blocking out other noise in the classroom. During tests there isn’t extraneous noise to be blocked out so music isn’t a necessity.

 CVU is known to be very liberal and open with its policies, so the policy that allows teachers to decide if music can be allowed or not is almost expected. I decided to ask students from other schools if they have any policy on listening to music. I asked students at Burlington High School, South Burlington High School, Essex High School, Mount Mansfield Union High School, Middlebury High School, Montpelier High School, U-32 High School, and Rice Memorial High School. Every school except for Middlebury and Rice had a similar policy to CVU. At Middlebury, the policy is one of no music, but my sources told me that this isn’t always enforced. At Rice, there is a strict no-phone policy that includes iPods and MP3 players. This policy excludes seniors, but only during study hall.

 There is some scientific research on the effects of music on learning and cognition. The most famous study done is by Rauscher, Shaw, and Ky (1993) that investigated the effects of Mozart on infant’s spatial reasoning abilities. There was an improvement in the babies’ spatial reasoning abilities, but this was blown out of proportion with what was dubbed “The Mozart Effect.” Many news organizations said that listening to Mozart made babies smarter, which was never tested for in the study. Other studies have been done to investigate the effects of music on cognition and memory, which will be the focus of the information relayed here. The studies focused on arithmetic and language comprehension (where the language was the subject’s first language). In a study performed in 2013 by Arielle S. Dolegui, it was shown that arithmetic was best performed in silence. When music was played, scores did not vary when “loud” music (such as rock) or “soft” music (such as classical) were played. Scores were lower in both types of music if the intensity (volume) of the music was higher. In another study performed by Simon P. Banbury, et al.

In 2001, it was shown that scores on a similar arithmetic test were lower than music or silence if there was background noise such as human speech or construction sounds. In a separate study done by E. Glenn Schellenberg and Michael W. Weiss in 2013, it was shown that students performing an arithmetic test performed the test faster when they listened to music, but also made more mistakes than their counterparts who performed the test in silence. When these results are put together, it can be reasonably determined that performance on arithmetic work will be sped up listening to music, but accuracy may be compromised. If there is background noise, it may be advisable to listen to music so that background noise is drowned out.

Many students listen to music while doing something other than math homework. Many classes require reading and students will listen to music there. All studies performed have led to the result that comprehension and memory will decline when listening to music while reading. In a 2010 study by Stacey A. Anderson and Simon B. Fuller, it was shown that there was no significant difference between comprehension when rock or classical music was listened to, but there was a higher short-term memory retention rate when classical music was listened to. All studies again showed that background noise was worse for comprehension and memory than music, but silence was still shown to be the best in these categories. 

We all know music isn’t going anywhere. Friedrich Nietzsche said “Without music, life would be a mistake.” One of our cultural pillars and greatest joys is music, but we still don’t know all that much about what it does to us outside of make us dance and sing along. The human brain is still largely a mystery, especially the parts that process language and music. The attitude around CVU seems to be one of acceptance to music, which is likely only going to grow. There needs to be more research done to reveal insights on the effects of music on memory, cognition, and learning to fully understand how we should study and work, but for now, I’m going to listen to my favorites and do my math homework.


REVIEW: Imagine Dragon’s “Smoke + Mirrors”

Mr. Charles Yarwood 

It’s difficult to find anyone who dislikes all of Imagine Dragons’ discography. Their sound is a mashup of musical styles that results in upbeat, powerful, and catchy songs that have appeal to people across all age groups and musical tastes. Taking vocal styles from outfits like Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers and lyrics that are reminiscent of OneRepublic and The Neighbourhood, and the minimalist backing beats of Coldplay, it’s hard not to find elements of their music to like. They had several EPs in circulation before releasing their first full-length album in 2012, Night Visions. It peaked at #2 on the Billboard 200 charts and struck a chord with many listeners. On February 17, they released their second album, Smoke + Mirrors.

While many of the songs on Night Visions had previously appeared on an EP, all of the tracks on Smoke + Mirrors are new to the world. The most extensive version of the album, the super-deluxe edition, features four new tracks that weren’t included in the standard release, as well as four previously released singles that the group had recorded for movies. The singles from Smoke + Mirrors are (in order of appearance on the album) “Shots,” “Gold,” and “I Bet My Life.” These tracks are frontloaded on the album, with all of them appearing in the first five songs, but they give the album some legs to stand on. “Shots” and “I Bet My Life” are similar to much of their previously recorded music, with emotional appeals written into the lyrics, raw vocals, and poppy rhythm sections. “Gold” takes a different tact than the other two singles. It features a tribal drumming rhythm to begin the song, a sound that isn’t similar to mainstream pop, and lyrics that discuss the struggles of materialism and wealth.

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