Science Confirms It: Pop Music Sounds The Same, Generally Sucks

Science Confirms It: Pop Music Sounds The Same, Generally Sucks Give these researchers ample credit: their work has perfectly adequately proven that there's great money can be earned overstating the obvious.

Using a gargantuan catalogue known as the Million Song Dataset, a Spanish research team has concluded pop music is currently very loud and all sounds the same, Reuters reports.

No, really. Contain your surprise.

Generally speaking, this couldn't be further from "news" to anybody who's listened to a three- or four-song set of Nickleback or Miley Cyrus on almost any given modern rock or Top 40 station, but this team dug deep and reduced the songs to their most essential parts.

"We found evidence of the progressive homogenization of the musical discourse," said Joan Serra, an artificial intelligence expert with the Spanish National Research Council who put 50 years of music through several complex algorithms. "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."

It's not even a nice way of saying "everything old is made new again." Really, it's a little more like illustrating everything "old" at least sounds fresher song-to-song than everything that's done nowadays with so much more sophisticated instrumentation and production engineering.

At its most basic, it's simply a matter of too many sounds sounding too much alike, or to use technical language, a more limited "timbre palette." When the same note is played at the same volume on a guitar and piano, researchers found, the two have a timbre and modern pop ends up with a more limited spectrum of sounds.

There's also more "intrinsic loudness" in music, which is baked-in volume that makes the songs louder than others played at the same amplifier volume. Serra claims it's the first time it's actually been measured that more recent music is indeed much, much louder than what our parents played.

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