Music in the News: Science Proves It Really Is Getting Worse

April 5, 2017 | by | 0 Comments

For a few generations now, parents have been screaming at their children to turn down the noise and amid angry protests, kids turned it down a few decibels, if that! You will hear people saying that today’s music isn’t music at all and that it isn’t what it used to be. With so many others, we simply wrote it off as a sign of the times and parents just not understanding the youth of today.

As with everything else in life, music evolves, and so it is just commonly understood that it’s a generation gap and nothing more. But, is it? One study referred to in Scientific American says that science has proven that pop music of today really is getting worse. Here is some of what they found. (Bear in mind that much of the research and findings are from professionals with at least a masters in music education.)

Is It Bias or Is It Bad?

If a student of an online masters in music program was to be asked if the proclamation that today’s pop music is getting worse over time is true, you would probably get a range of opinions, but sincere students would most likely concur. According to a postdoctoral fellow, Joan Serra, at the Spanish National Research Council in Barcelona’s Artificial Intelligence Research Institute, music needs to be examined from three perspectives, which would include:
1. Timbre
2. Pitch
3. Volume / loudness
Together with his colleagues, Serra investigated today’s music from a scientific approach to see if it is truly bad or if it’s a generational or sociological bias. His findings will astound today’s youth, and probably not for the better!

Timbre, Pitch and Volume

A music student seeking an online music education degree understands these three aspects of music very well. Timbre refers to the texture, or what we refer to as the color of the music. Pitch is obviously referring to harmonics, how many waves per second, and volume, which as parents we are all too familiar with! The scholars from Barcelona found that pitch definitely suffers and musicians of today are less likely to experiment. They simply follow the chord structure of those that are popular in their era.
Also, with electronics, vocalists no longer need to be pitch perfect because technology can raise or lower a note until it resonates at the right frequency. Watch any popular performer live and you will see that few are actually pitch perfect, or at least even close to being on key many times. Then there is volume and what needs to be said about that? Sometimes the volume is so loud that it reverberates, ruining the timbre and pitch of the piece being played.

The Only Conclusion You Can Draw

Without going into the entire findings in Serra’s study, the group of music scholars from Spain investigated the progression of pop music in terms of these three aspects and came to the conclusion that by traditional standards, music is indeed getting worse. However, you will still get the argument that no one wants to be traditional – so either way you lose.

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