August 1, 2012

SCIENCE: Modern Music Really Does Sound The Same. “For fans of the golden oldies it is confirmation of something they have already known: modern music really is louder and has less variety than 50 years ago. . . . The study, by Spanish researchers, analysed an archive known as the Million Song Dataset to discover how the course of music changed between 1955 and 2010. While loudness has steadily increased since the 1950s, the team found that the variety of chords, melodies and types of sound being used by musicians has become ever smaller.”

The use of heavy compression makes all the songs on an album tend to sound the same — I call it the Superdrag effect, where the first couple of minutes sound great, then it all sounds the same — and of course, the use of samples. I occasionally hear a sample that I used in one of my Mobius Dick tunes in some pop song and laugh. Once I heard Justin Timberlake at the gym and recognized the guitar riff as a sample that — vocoded — I had licensed from Brian Transeau, which makes sense since he was Timberlake’s producer. It was very amusing. But when samples proliferate like that — and especially when a comparatively small number of sound designers produce a lot of them — that adds to the sameness.

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