Scientists: Pop Music Getting Louder, More Bland

July 26th, 2012

According to Reuters, a team of scientists has apparently confirmed the long-held suspicions of parents everywhere that pop music is getting louder and blander.

The research team, which is based out of Spain, reached their conclusions after analyzing pop records from 1955 through 2010, running the songs through algorithms to look at factors such as chord progressions and melodic complexity.

“We found evidence of a progressive homogenization of the musical discourse,” Joan Serra, the head of the team, told Reuters. “In particular, we obtained numerical indicators that the diversity of transitions between note combinations — roughly speaking, chords plus melodies — has consistently diminished in the last 50 years.”

Aside from the increasing homogenization of popular music, the team’s findings also reflect the results of the so-called “loudness wars,” showing that music is unequivocally getting louder, thanks mostly to over-compression.

While it can be assumed that the list of albums the team examined will be published along with their findings, a quick search didn’t turn one up. It will be interesting to see if they included popular rock albums such as Back In Black, Led Zeppelin IV or Dark Side of the Moon, and how exactly they defined the parameters of “pop” music.

Do you think their findings are accurate? If so, why do you think that is? Let us know what you think in the comments!

  • jose

    I certainly believe it. With the advent of faster video and easier, more portable ways to view it, it has become as much a visual media as it is audio. So instead of the incredible talent of people like Jimmy Page or unique sound like Elvis Costello, being sexy or desirable is the main attraction and talent can take a back seat.

  • Sean S

    It took a team of scientists? I could have told you that just because it is loud does not mean it is good. Of course it has goren more bland. Record execs want what us way to sell and not necessarily quality goes in.

  • matt

    More of a confirmation than a grand breakthrough many less accurate super computers known as ears have previously come to this conclusion. Getting louder may sound cool but remember the volume is determined by the volume control they’re talking about compression making more of the soundwave at the peak so yes more of it is louder but there’s less of a dynamic range which isn’t cool necessarily. The electronic age means there are more dj/producer types making music and less people are learning about complex chord progressions and melodies meaning there is less interest in the market aswell as musicians that are not less educated but more focused on the modern technology and less on the basics, but that’s what sells these days. We can blame corporations but they are just following the principle of supply and demand. Theres still music to suit all tastes so for anyone that doesn’t like modern pop like me, this is the internet google and you will find. But remember pop music was never really complex.

  • Rob

    Makes sense – with so much media at our fingertips it’s almost impossible to have a large collective of people interested in anything but the lowest common denominator. I hate to say it but we’ll probably never see another Tom Petty or many of the huge bands that we saw in the pre-internet glory days of rock/pop music.

  • Jeff

    World musical styles really began to collide in the 60’s due to an increase in global communications (i.e.; British baby-boomers listening to delta blues on on the radio in the 40’s brought us 60’s & 70’s rock). This made for excellent music (especially the collision of European and African styles which began in the early 20th century) but the continued collision with other world music seemed to cause melody to decrease in importance & rhythm to become more important. The music we speak of is that of the western world which is much more multicultural than it was 50 years ago. We also need to take into consideration the creation of rap music, which is very rhythmic and dance music such as disco & techno (which is all I hear coming out of cars passing me by on the street), which all came to be in the past 50 years. These types of music also influenced rock genres.