Scientists in Spain say that modern pop music is louder and sounds the same. Researchers studied a huge archive known as the “Million Song Dataset,” which breaks down audio and lyrical content into data that can be crunched, to study pop. “Artificial intelligence” specialist Joan Serra at the Spanish National Research Council ran music from the last 50 years through some complex algorithms and found that pop songs have become intrinsically louder and more bland in terms of the chords, melodies and types of sound used.
“We found evidence of a progressive homogenization of the musical discourse,” Serra 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.”
They also found the “timbre palette” has become poorer. The same note played at the same volume on a piano and a guitar is said to have a different timbre – the researchers found modern pop has a more limited variety of sounds.
The music industry and the “loudness war” appears to be part of the problem. Serra says this is the first time pop music has been properly measured using a large database.