A study came out a few years ago which seems to bolster the argument that pop music has actually gotten worse over time. The study measured three aspects of music to see how it has changed since the mid-twentieth century – timbral, pitch, and volume – and the conclusion was that it’s turned into a blog of monotony:
…timbral variety went down. That means that songs are becoming more and more homogeneous. In other words, all pop music sounds the same now. Take this fake pop song for example.
The study also found that pitch content has decreased – which means that the number of chords and different melodies has gone down. “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,” Scientific American explains.
This is kind of neat on a few levels.
- I think the findings give evidence for what everyone has thought from time to time anyway.
- The progression of music towards homogeneity may simply reflect increasing globalization, which has causes a lot of the nuances of culture to be lost.
- Thanks to the internet, the increase in musical “sameness” has likely accelerated at a much greater rate over the past few decades.
Personally, these findings don’t bother me much – and I am a music lover. Just as the internet (and accompanying globalization) has decreased one aspect of cultural diversity, it has opened up another. I listen to far more variety in music now, thanks to streaming music sites like Spotify, than I ever did when I was growing up in an internet-less world. I regularly listen to styles – from Trinidadian steel drums to Samba to Monteverdi to Carly Rae Jepsen – that would have been almost completely unavailable to me less than twenty years ago.
Perhaps the real problem with the “sameness” in pop music today is not in pop music itself, but instead in the consumers who demand more of the same and avoid the opportunity to explore other genres that they can do so easily.