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by Mark McGuire

Talking It Over

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What's being talked about in the Daily Gazette, Schenectady, the Capital Region, nation and a few other places.
 

Go ahead and say it: Today's music is lame

By Mark McGuire
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Photo of

PHOTO: Pitbull (Associated Press)

You want to say it, but are afraid -- with some justification -- that the lament will tag you as old.

But go ahead, feel free: Today's pop music just doesn't measure up to the past.

Take heart in the fact there is some scientific evidence to back you up.

A study appearing in Scientific Reports looked at nearly a half-million pop songs spanning generations to plot changes.

The findings: Pop music is more homogenous, less adventurous ... and louder.

From Scientific American:

"Joan Serrà, a postdoctoral scholar at the Artificial Intelligence Research Institute of the Spanish National Research Council in Barcelona, and his colleagues examined three aspects of those songs: timbre (which “accounts for the sound color, texture, or tone quality,” according to Serrà and his colleagues); pitch (which “roughly corresponds to the harmonic content of the piece, including its chords, melody, and tonal arrangements”); and loudness (more on that below).

"After peaking in the 1960s, timbral variety has been in steady decline to the present day, the researchers found. That implies a homogenization of the overall timbral palette, which could point to less diversity in instrumentation and recording techniques. Similarly, the pitch content of music has shriveled somewhat. The basic pitch vocabulary has remained unchanged—the same notes and chords that were popular in decades past are popular today—but the syntax has become more restricted. Musicians today seem to be less adventurous in moving from one chord or note to another, instead following the paths well-trod by their predecessors and contemporaries.

"Finally, it comes as no surprise that music has gotten louder. A piece of music’s loudness is an intrinsic characteristic of the recording, not to be confused with the listener-controlled volume. ..."

That is not an indictment of all contemporary music, or stating there is no good new music to be found. What it does say is today's music is not as good as it once was as a whole.

But you knew that.

You just didn't want to say it.

 
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