Posted in: Music, Science

Pop Music ‘Homogenized,’ Study Finds Kids These Days Don’t Understand Good Music

you kids dont appreciate music

Pop music is different these days, and it’s not all in your imagination — a new study finds that get off of my lawn with that robot noise.

If you’ve felt like the radio is full of the same old, same old, you might feel like you’re past it and just unable to appreciate Top 40 in 2012. But lifelong pop fans of a certain age, take heart — it really has changed overall, and not necessarily for the better.

It’s not just Generation X and Baby Boomers who have noticed the palpable change in pop — a new study has determined that the genre has become woefully “homogenized,” and that variety in pop music is becoming a thing of the past.

Homogenization isn’t the only pop music trend that you may notice is unfavorably taking over the genre. Do you also feel like your ears are being buffeted with an unending assault of bleepy-bloopy tones? The research also found that pop music has become, in addition to unfavorably samey, also quite loud.

The study centers around a quantitative analysis of almost a half million songs, where researchers attempted to tease out global changes in pop over the years. The data was culled from a publicly available trove of songs, the Million Song Dataset, which includes almost 45,000 artists. The research team looked at name, tempo and song duration to determine what changes overall could be observed in pop music between the golden era of doo-wop in 1955 and the modern era of pop, in 2010.

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Of the million songs in the dataset, more than 460,000 were released in timeframe set by researchers and included information sufficient regarding artist and structure to include it in the study. Scientific American explains how pop music has leveled out to a puree of sounds since reaching its apex in the 60s:

“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.”

The magazine continues:

“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.”

The pop music study’s findings were published in the July 26th online edition of Scientific Reports.

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