You can often hear how music lovers who came out of the demographic slice, which aims pop music, outraged at the fact that today's music is not the same as it was before. Such statements sounded about jazz back in the 1920s, when New York Evening Post music critic Ernst Newman said: “This is a tool on which people can play a little music; but if any decent composer tried to play his own melody on him, he would soon crumble in his hands. ” Similar criticism in the 50s was aimed at rock and roll, in the 60s - at the music in the style of bits
, and the like continues today.
What happens when science tries to confirm such statements? Here are a few studies from which it turns out that your parents could get much more pleasure from popular music than you can.
1. Statement: sadder and slower
In 2012, titled “Emotional Signals in Popular American Music: Five Decades of Forty Best Songs,” Glen Schellenberg and Christian von Shiv analyzed two key elements in pop hits. They took the best hits from the Billboard charts from 1950 to 2010 and built a graph of tempos - rhythm speeds - and also indicated the key, major or minor. In practice, music in a major key usually sounds more fun, and in the minor key - sad.
This is not a reliable measure of how “happy” the song is - some of the saddest pieces of Coldplay are written in major - but they found that the taste of the public leans towards songs in minor and at a slow pace - like the video. Even songs written in a major manner slow down, which indicates the beginning of a lack of fun - as they write it, “a progressive increase in mixed emotional signals in popular music.”
2. Statement: easier and louder
The first study followed a similar study by a team from the Spanish Higher Council for Scientific Research, led by artificial intelligence specialist Joan Serra, who studied nearly half a million popular songs in about the same period (1955-2010), and looked at tonality, melodies and lyrics. They concluded that in general, pop music became less complex melodically, uses less chord changes, and that the volume of popular recordings is constantly increasing (due to which the dynamics decrease), by about one decibel in eight years.
Serra told Reuters: “We found evidence of progressive homogenization of musical melodies. In particular, numerical indicators were obtained that the variety of transitions between combinations of notes - roughly speaking, chords and melodies - has been steadily decreasing over the past 50 years. ”
The report even gives an explanation of the phenomenon of recent hits, which are covers of older songs: “Our perception of the new one is spurred on by recognizing more simple sequences of tones, stylish mixtures of timbres and increased volume. Therefore, the old melody with slightly simplified progressions of chords, new sound of instruments that coincide with modern trends, and recorded using modern technologies that allow reaching a higher volume level, will be readily perceived as new, fashionable and breakthrough. ”
3. Statement: antisocial and evil.
A year before, the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts published a report that studied the question of changing the language of popular songs over the past 30 years. Researchers took a test set of the ten most popular songs of America from 1980 to 2007, and studied how words are used there to evaluate how pop music fans use it to support their emotional state. The report says that "simply listening to the most popular songs on the radio can help people better understand the psychological characteristics of their generation."
They found that the use of first-person singular pronouns (the words “I”) is constantly increasing over time, suggesting that fans are increasingly interested in first-person songs. This coincides with a decrease in the number of words that emphasize the importance of community and teamwork. They also noted an increase in the number of antisocial and angry words, indicating that pop culture reflects a growing sense of personal rage and social anxiety. Eminem would have known such accusations.
4. Statement: not as good as before.
Everyone who watches the election reporting knows that the population survey is not 100% accurate. And the polls of people about their musical preferences layered subjectivity on subjectivity, because when people are asked to tell about their preferences, they much more easily admit to the love of David Bowie than to later performers, and in any case they consciously select the best examples from the past . It is therefore interesting to note the results of a 2014 survey conducted by Vanity Fair magazine, in which 1017 adults asked questions regarding their musical preferences.
Answers to the question of which decade was the worst music, were chronologically distributed - 2010s received 42%, 2000s received 15%, and the 90s, 80s, and 70s received approximately equally - 13%, 14% and 12%. From this, an inexperienced reader could conclude that the survey was conducted among people of a certain age, but, apparently, such an opinion is quite widespread. Among people aged 18 to 29 years, 39% were in 2010, and among people older than 30 during this decade, 43% voted, indicating that people find the most pleasure in digging up old songs than in tracking new ones.
5. Statement: more reps.
Repetition in pop music is one of the key properties of its appeal, and it is obligatory both in the hit Tutti-Frutti by Little Richard
and in the song Man's Not Hot from Big Shaq. However, the irreproachable report of Daniel Morris from 2017 on repetitions in pop music suggests that the hit songs are coming closer to the texts consisting of one word.The Lempel-Ziv-Welch algorithm is
a lossless data compression method using repetitions. Morris used this tool to study 15,000 songs from the Billboard Hot 100 from 1958 to 2014, compressing their texts to the smallest size without losing data, and comparing the relative sizes obtained. He found two interesting things. First: in any year, songs that have reached the top ten popular ones contained more repetitions than their rivals. Second: popular music is becoming more and more repetitive. As Morris writes: “In 2014, the most repetitions were recorded in the texts. The average song of this year is compressed by an average of 22% better than a song from the 1960s. ”
This, of course, does not mean that popular music loses interest. It can slow down, become sadder - but if popular songs are simpler and louder today, and also contain more repetitions than before, then this can serve as compensation. In a 2011 report entitled Music and Emotions in the Brain: Awareness Matters, prepared by a team led by Carlos Silva Pereira, they write that the human brain likes to know what will happen next in the musical composition. They scanned the brains of people listening to songs with the help of fMRI
, and concluded that: “The presence of familiar moments seems to be the most important factor for music to emotionally enthrall listeners.”
So the sooner the song becomes familiar, the more likely it is that listeners rummaging through streaming services will stop at it and run it again. That says that modern pop music has even become more interesting than ever.