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Thread: What is your opinion on modern popular music having no melody?

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    Senior Member PresenTense's Avatar
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    Question What is your opinion on modern popular music having no melody?

    Personally, I'm not that against that change in popular music because I like a lot of Rap Music which focuses in rhymes and the structure of the beat. I think there are very interesting acts today that focus on rhythm and other aspects of music.

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    Senior Member tdc's Avatar
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    The title of this thread and the title of the video are inaccurate, and over dramatizing this issue in my view.

    All of the examples of music in that video have melody to some degree. Melodies becoming shorter, more fragmented and less at the forefront of a piece of music is not the same thing as music having no melody, or melody "dying" and needing to be "saved".

    The only way for music to stay fresh and vital is for aspects of it to change periodically to avoid cliché and over predictability. Melody has been more at the forefront for a long time. In order to keep things interesting different aspects of music will be emphasized when another aspect has been played out within a given context. Melody is still important, but its role has changed. This will continue until people become bored with the status quo and eventually it will come back around in a new context. As the narrator in the video said himself there are still plenty of composers around capable of writing melodies, the art of melody hasn't died, nor will it ever.
    Last edited by tdc; Sep-30-2019 at 01:43.

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    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    I have no interest in tuneless pop music. Am I supposed to be intoxicated with the simplistic rhythmic qualities and techno beats? I like music made by musicians who can play instruments and create melodies.

    The producer of that video ought to look a little farther than Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, and Rap, because there are hundreds of artists creating melodic music. I listen to Michael Franti, Hiatus Kyote, and Thundercat, just for a few examples.
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    Most pop music bores me, but some is great Let them experiment.

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    Senior Member Eva Yojimbo's Avatar
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    I recently saw that video and contemplated posting it myself in regards to how Beethoven's 5th could be seen as one of the earliest models for this.

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    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eva Yojimbo View Post
    I recently saw that video and contemplated posting it myself in regards to how Beethoven's 5th could be seen as one of the earliest models for this.
    Interesting musical development or ingenious variations common in classical music never happens in these boring pop pieces. I hesitate to refer to them as tunes or songs because there is no tune.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PresenTense View Post
    Personally, I'm not that against that change in popular music because I like a lot of Rap Music which focuses in rhymes and the structure of the beat. I think there are very interesting acts today that focus on rhythm and other aspects of music.
    I think it's true that limited melodies make them easier for average people to sing along. But I've wondered, is pop music closer to chanting rather than actualy singing? Or more directly, closer to the blues, where the words/story are more important and more of the focus than the melody? Of course, as a sax player, it gets frustrating when you try to play a pop tune when there isn't much of a recognizable melody.
    Last edited by Manxfeeder; Sep-30-2019 at 19:02.

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    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    The biggest issue I have with modern pop music is the dearth of ideas and variety. Most now relies on shoddy Latin rhythms or tuneless, meandering ramblings. At least the pop music of the 70s and 80s was more diverse. What Arianna Grande or James Arthur pump out now is stereotypical plop with little variation. Others like the awful Sam Smith are almost unlistenable and incomprehensible.
    Last edited by Merl; Sep-30-2019 at 21:40.

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    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manxfeeder View Post
    I think it's true that limited melodies make them easier for average people to sing along. But I've wondered, is pop music closer to chanting rather than actualy singing? Or more directly, closer to the blues, where the words/story are more important and more of the focus than the melody? Of course, as a sax player, it gets frustrating when you try to play a pop tune when there isn't much of a recognizable melody.
    I know know about closer to the blues? I have lots of blues records and the vocal melodies are mostly pretty tuneful and expressive. Maybe current pop is closer to field hollers without the hollering?
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    Quote Originally Posted by starthrower View Post
    . Maybe current pop is closer to field hollers without the hollering?
    Maybe so. Although pop music does have a lot of hollering.

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    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    Some of these pop stars have good voices but the material doesn't showcase their talent. Instead they employ a talking style with a undeveloped melody of a few notes.
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    Senior Member Simon Moon's Avatar
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    I hear plenty of melodie in modern pop, they are just simplistic, banal and annoying (to me).

    Compare any of the new pop or hip hop melodies to almost anything by: Simon and Garfunkel, The Beatles, The Eagles, Tears for Fears, Simple Minds, INXS, (none of whom I a real fan of, but I can still detect a good melody when I hear it) and to me, the difference in quality is obvious.

    And the science bears this out.

    https://www.mic.com/articles/107896/...ounds-the-same

    "A new study [2015], surveying more than 500,000 albums, shows simplicity sells best across all music genres. As something becomes popular, it necessarily dumbs down and becomes more formulaic".

    " In a recent study, researchers from the Medical University of Vienna in Austria studied 15 genres and 374 subgenres. They rated the genre's complexity over time — measured by researchers in purely quantitative aspects, such as timbre and acoustical variations — and compared that to the genre's sales. They found that in nearly every case, as genres increase in popularity, they also become more generic.


    "This can be interpreted," the researchers write, "as music becoming increasingly formulaic in terms of instrumentation under increasing sales numbers due to a tendency to popularize music styles with low variety and musicians with similar skills."

    I am actually somewhat surprised that classical music fans would find repetitiveness and simplicity to be something appealing in music.

    I just can't do it. All forms of pop, hip hop, mainstream rock, country, etc, just bore the hell out of me.
    Last edited by Simon Moon; Sep-30-2019 at 23:31.
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    Senior Member Eva Yojimbo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by starthrower View Post
    Interesting musical development or ingenious variations common in classical music never happens in these boring pop pieces. I hesitate to refer to them as tunes or songs because there is no tune.
    I was not thinking that the entire piece was a model, just the opening 4-note motif, which is arguably the most well-known piece of classical music ever. People who wouldn't know a single piece of classical music would still recognize it instantly. There's a reason those 4 notes resonate, and I suspect it has something to do with how it almost boils down music to a binary code-like language.

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    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    Maybe Deep Purple's riff to Smoke On The Water is the rock equivalent to Beethoven's 5th?
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    Senior Member Eva Yojimbo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simon Moon View Post
    And the science bears this out.

    https://www.mic.com/articles/107896/...ounds-the-same

    "A new study [2015], surveying more than 500,000 albums, shows simplicity sells best across all music genres. As something becomes popular, it necessarily dumbs down and becomes more formulaic".

    " In a recent study, researchers from the Medical University of Vienna in Austria studied 15 genres and 374 subgenres. They rated the genre's complexity over time — measured by researchers in purely quantitative aspects, such as timbre and acoustical variations — and compared that to the genre's sales. They found that in nearly every case, as genres increase in popularity, they also become more generic.

    "This can be interpreted," the researchers write, "as music becoming increasingly formulaic in terms of instrumentation under increasing sales numbers due to a tendency to popularize music styles with low variety and musicians with similar skills."
    Let's be cautious about what's science and what's opinion here. That article mostly an opinion piece about the study it's discussing. The study, eg, says nothing about "dumbing down" and the "formulaic" aspect is mostly related to instrumentation; which is actually a problem for analyzing pop music, which has no formula for instrumentation but varies (sometimes drastically) with the times. Also, if you take something like metal, the difference between popular metal and unpopular metal has nothing to do with the variety of instrumentation (nor timbre and acoustical variations), but the actual musical content. Further, the article claiming that those two Taylor Swift songs "sound exactly the same" makes me question if they have ears. One is scored for a marching band-like drums beat and horn, the latter for electronic drums and synths. The hooks, vocal styles, and tone are also completely different. I can understand what they mean about the Meghan Trainer songs, though; they are extremely similar.

    Quote Originally Posted by Simon Moon View Post
    I am actually somewhat surprised that classical music fans would find repetitiveness and simplicity to be something appealing in music.

    I just can't do it. All forms of pop, hip hop, mainstream rock, country, etc, just bore the hell out of me.
    Why would you be surprised? You do realize that much great classical music is quite simple on many levels, and repetition, to some degree, is something all listeners like. In fact, there have actually been studies done that show one reason most audiences don't like atonal music is the lack of discernible repetition. For me, "simple" and "complex" are more quantitative rather than qualitative. There's plenty of good and bad on both sides of that spectrum. I might say that, all other things being equal, complex is better if only because there's more to like and appreciate; but how often can we say everything is actually equal?

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