We'd been using multiple formats and devices for recording and playing our music for decades and were due a change. Vinyl albums are now sought only by collectors, 8-track tapes too faded into history after a very short lifespan. Then came cassette tapes which were great for a little while but tapes stretch; you don't ever want to hear 'Stairway to Heaven' in slow motion.
Digital is taken from the word 'digit' or numbers. Digital occurs by means of an electronic device which generates, stores, and processes data. Unlike former recording methods such as vinyl records or magnetic tapes, today's music is recorded as data. By converting sound to data, the physical object is now replaced by numbers. The music (sound) is processed and saved as a digital data file, in our case, an audio file, be it an .mp3 file or other format. These numbers (data) are read by the digital device and processed back into sound. This is how your computer, cellphone, mp3 player, etc. actually work when playing music.
In 1980 Phillips teamed up with Sony for the development of compact digital discs or CDs. Playing music now joined stereo in producing the best musical sound ever achieved from a recording. The musical equipment we now use has improved greatly since the turntable. Digital music is computerized and played on a digital device thereby eliminating the former aggravations. We just keep getting better at making music. Today's sound could never have been imagined by the former centuries.
Since music has gone digital, even computers are making their own now. A lot of people have personal computers and pocket devices as well with software capable of producing never before heard of sounds. A musically inclined ear can now sit down and completely build a song, add both analog and digital effects, master it, and burn a CD, formerly known as an album, at home and never even pick up an instrument. Where's the heart?
Marketing music is a whole new game too and just pray yours doesn't get assimilated. Protect your work. Digital makes it easy to steal our music by outside compromise of digital devices. Industrial espionage too now plays a large part thanks to modern technologies. Spies are everywhere music is made.
A 5-string bass or an MP3, appoggiaturas abound and some tones are definitely out of place with the chord while others seem meant to be there through natural progression. Did I mention the addition of feedback? Screen test anyone?