Science Proves Your Grandma Right About Pop Music

John Funk

U.N. Owen Was Him?
Dec 20, 2005
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Science Proves Your Grandma Right About Pop Music

Modern pop is too loud and it all sounds the same.

Examining a set of pop music from 1955 (that's 5 years before the Beatles were formed in Liverpool, for context) until 2010, a group of researchers in Spain fed the songs into a sophisticated computer algorithm and concluded that musically, tunes have grown increasingly bland over the years.

"We found evidence of a progressive homogenization of the musical discourse," team lead and artificial intelligence specialist Joan Serra at the Spanish National Research Council told Reuters. In particular, we obtained numerical indicators that the diversity of transitions between note combinations - roughly speaking chords plus melodies - has consistently diminished in the last 50 years."

Not only have the chords and melodies grown simpler and less unique, but Serra's team discovered that there are fewer timbres in play these days, too. The timbre of a given pitch is, to put it simply, how it sounds - you can play the same Middle C on a piano, saxophone, theremin or sitar and it will sound differently on all of them; that is the note's timbre. According to Serra, the timbre palette is poorer now than it has ever been, meaning that there simply aren't as many different sounds in pop music as there used to be.

Your grumpy neighbor yelling at the kids to turn down their loud devil music might have a point, too. Serra's team found that the intrinsic loudness of songs - that is, how loud or soft a song sounds when the speakers are set to the same output - has increased over the years. According to Serra, this is the first concrete proof of the so-called "loudness war" in which record labels keep escalating the volume at which they set their music.

So yes, modern pop music is too loud, and it does all sound the same. Now get off my lawn.

Source: NBC [http://entertainment.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/07/26/12973700-researchers-find-pop-music-is-too-loud-and-all-sounds-the-same]

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Cowabungaa

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Feb 10, 2008
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tmande2nd said:
Next on "News everyone already knows": Bears shit in woods!
Indeed. The Loudness War [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudness_war] is nothing new or surprising. It's been going on for a while now and somehow I doubt that this is the 'first real concrete proof' of it. Doesn't seem like a hard thing to prove.

The whole spiel about the timbre pallete is something else though but honestly no less surprising. Most modern pop music seems to focus on vocals with laughably simple music behind it. Just listen to Adele's Someone Like You. It's just the same goddamn piano tune over and over again. It's like that all the time. Or even worse; electronic backing tracks. They're often even more simplistic.
 

Tortilla the Hun

Decidedly on the Fence
May 7, 2011
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I can't remember the last time I heard good sax in pop music...

I'm really glad that now there's actually scientific proof to support my arguments.

Take that, you boombox-blasting hooligans!!
 

Imperioratorex Caprae

Henchgoat Emperor
May 15, 2010
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Thank you thank you thank you Science! Of course the pop-loving sheep of the world are never going to understand this as it takes a modicum of free-thought to understand it.
 

Covarr

PS Thanks
May 29, 2009
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There seems to be an unspoken rule that new bands need two guitars, a bass, and drums, with one of the guitars on vocals. It's kind of annoying really. Although thinking of it, my personal favorite bands (Harvey Danger, They Might Be Giants, Queen, Locust Street Taxi) all seem to break this mold. I don't think anyone can listen to Wine, Women, and Song or Birdhouse In Your Sould and say either one sounds like most modern popular music.

P.S. Thanks
 

Triforceformer

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Jun 16, 2009
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Ahh, that feeling when scientific studies tell us exactly what we want to hear. All skepticism goes out the window.
 

Tsaba

reconnoiter
Oct 6, 2009
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and my favorite analogy stands up for pop music...

Bubble gum music. It all tastes the same and it tastes stale after a few minutes.

Too bad the only thing from pop music that has really lasted the test of time is the Beatles.
 

thiosk

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Sep 18, 2008
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I no longer go to bars that under 30's frequent-- the music is simply too loud to enjoy a conversation with friends.
 

dangoball

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Jun 20, 2011
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What? Nobody said it yet? Oh, come on!
Ok, I'll do it then...

Listening to Pop... For SCIENCE!

There!
 

digital warrior

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Oct 17, 2008
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I've been saying pop music is generic loud and becoming increasingly homogenized for years, and now science agrees with me. Thank you science, just thank you.
 

The Pink Pansy

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Jun 17, 2010
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This being said it really doesn't matter how loud music is or how similar/different it is to other music. What is more important is that it sounds /good/ or conveys the ideas/emotions the artist is trying to convey.
 

Cowabungaa

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Scrumpmonkey said:
The problem is when it comes to using completely digital backing tracks. I'm not talking about Synths, Trent Reznor, Gary Newman and The Chemical Brothers have proved that Synths used properly can produce works of genius. Im talking about Pro tools BEING the music. Everything is nearly Midi, even 90% of vocals are put through the ringer these days.
Oh believe me, one look at my Spotify playlists and you'd know I realized that. But those examples aren't exactly mainstream pop music. Nor are they really backing tracks. I was thinking more like Katy Perry-style electronic backing tracks.
Also its just shit. There is that.
At least it's easily ignored. Gods I love Spotify.