Coming from a completely scientific and logical mindset, and compared to the past 70 years of music, the quality of music has severely declined. This link will show you aspects in songs that have changed (for the worse) since the 50’s, but I’ll summarize:
- “After peaking in the 1960’s, timbral variety has been in steady decline to the present day.” Timbre is what makes a musical note different compared to others, it is what makes us differentiate between different instruments. Timbre is created from the number of harmonics and pitches melded together to create a sound, the intensity of the playing (for example, how you can differently pluck a guitar string), and vibrato, controlled variation of a pitch or tone. A skilled musician can master all three and make their sound, their own. So what does it mean when I say, timbral variety has gone down? “A homogenization of the overall timbral palette, which could point to less diversity in instrumentation and recording techniques.” When the Beatles made Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (widely considered one of the best albums of all time), it took weeks, if not months of songwriting and bouncing of ideas. And A Day In The Life (widely acclaimed as one of the best songs of all time) had a seriously hard production. The song was created using a 41-piece orchestra and includes “sophisticated George Martin and Geoff Emerick musical trickery (distortion, echo, dubbing, reverb)”. But today, Justin Bieber just beat a Beatles record, “Bieber boasts 17 songs on the Dec. 5 Hot 100, marking the most titles that any artist has placed on the chart in a single week. He bests the 14 each that the Beatles managed on April 11, 1964.” But can anyone honestly tell me Bieber records music better than the Beatles?
- Pitch in songs has also significantly declined. “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.” Here it also explains how a lot of melodies are similar now and “that the diversity of transitions between note combinations – roughly speaking chords plus melodies – has consistently diminished.”
- Today music has gotten louder to grab your attention more. Back in the 60’s, a lot more music could be slower and longer. If we take Led Zeppelin, for example, Achilles Last Stand is a 10-minute song, do most people nowadays have the patience to listen to an entire 10-minute song? No, with services such as YouTube available, most people don’t listen to an entire song over and over again, let alone all of it, to figure out if they like it. Most likely when people hear a song today, they listen to it for a few seconds…*SKIP*…another song… *SKIP*. But back then, people had to buy songs on vinyl and they were stuck with it. But they could listen to each song and listen to its distinctions and varieties. But as we just clarified, music lacks those distinctions. So what’s the record company’s solution?By just turning up the audio dial. But “when the whole song is loud, nothing within it stands out as being exclamatory or punchy.”
Now some of you may ignore this and be content with the music we listen to, but I beg you. Demand more from your music. We are the consumers, we have the ability to make the producers make more quality music.
We are in the golden age of music. There will be a time when technology becomes so advanced that we’ll rely on them to make music rather than raw talent. Music will lose its soul- Freddie Mercury
Is Modern Music Terrible? by Bobby is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.