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Thread: Song Variance Comparison

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    Song Variance Comparison

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    Over the past decade or so, the concept of melody seems to have changed from what it was for Rock or Big Band melodies. There are songs being written with the traditional concept of melody and I have provided some examples below. However, the most prominent interpretation of melody is what Iím calling contemporary melody.

    In the past melodies were an important component of the marketability of the song. However, today melodies seem more like an afterthought. As I will demonstrate in this paper, it is possible to statistically measure the difference in variation between traditional and contemporary melodies. Moreover, traditional melodies exhibit a larger range of pitch whereas the contemporary melodies are confined to a narrow set of notes.
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    Here is also an engaging talk on repetition in songs that is interesting and informative:


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    Interesting topic!
    I bet if you looked into duration/range/complexity of recurring motifs in pieces of music across the years you end up seeing shorter and simpler motifs as time passes.
    It might even be interesting looking into comparison of motifs between songs in various time periods; When people say modern music all sounds the same, they mean it!
    ---------- Steenaudio Website ----------

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    Quote Originally Posted by tangoloco View Post
    Over the past decade or so, the concept of melody seems to have changed from what it was for Rock or Big Band melodies.
    I would broadly agree that over the last century, melodies have become 'narrower', and I would have like to have seen a comparison between a set songs from around the start of the 20th century to a set from around the start of the 21st century. The songs you have compared, with the exception of Sway and Quando, or all, in my view, relatively recent.

    Quote Originally Posted by tangoloco View Post
    There are songs being written with the traditional concept of melody and I have provided some examples below.
    Your using 'being written' implies currency, which somewhat contradicts your proposition. In other words, if songs are being written with a 'traditional concept of melody', that means that currently there is a mixture of both today, i.e. traditional and contemporary, and that one is not necessarily replacing the other.

    Quote Originally Posted by tangoloco View Post
    In the past melodies were an important component of the marketability of the song.
    Agree.

    Quote Originally Posted by tangoloco View Post
    However, today melodies seem more like an afterthought.
    Perhaps not so much an afterthought, but more a reflection of what is currently more marketable, i.e. rhythm, repetition and hook.

    Quote Originally Posted by tangoloco View Post
    As I will demonstrate in this paper, it is possible to statistically measure the difference in variation between traditional and contemporary melodies. Moreover, traditional melodies exhibit a larger range of pitch whereas the contemporary melodies are confined to a narrow set of notes.
    I agree that is is possible to statistically measure the variation, and I would agree that traditional melodies would exhibit a greater range of pitch than contemporary. I would also think that they would exhibit long melody lines. I was hoping to see greater variation in the graphs. Maybe if you selected songs from a significantly different era, the difference would be more marked.

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    Uggggghhhhh... As always, I must call bull**** on this entire topic.

    Comparing repetition in lyrics via compression algorithms is a clever idea, but his data is a lie. Pure text is almost always compressible by 80-90%. To have only gotten 13% on "standard prose" means he is lying about which algorithm he used (zip) or he introduced some kind of noise to the signal to tamper with his results. (audio files - notoriously difficult to compress - still zip about 10-15%)

    Music isn't getting worse; you're just not a teenager anymore.

    Rap music isn't inherently a-melodic; you're just being racist and/or willfully ignorant about how music works.

    Vocals aren't the only melodic instrument.

    Throwing math at the small dataset of "new songs I don't like" doesn't make your hypothesis anything more than old people grousing.

    I hate seeing this topic, especially in a music forum where we should know better.

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    I happen to agree with VomitHatSteve. When you think that most commercial music melodies today are written for and performed by vocalists and not instruments....as in the past......the vocalist by nature has an inherently more narrow range than most instruments.....even the greatest singers are limited by comparison. The further back in time you go.......the more it was that melodies were written for instruments...pianos...etc. As we look back at the explosion of commercial / popular music.......we see almost no "instrumentals" as such.....and only artists / vocalists who have their predetermined range. As an artist became more in demand / popular.......it only could be that what was churned out for commercial success was similar and repeated over and over. I'm very sure that melodies written for orchestras and the like are far more diverse compared to the human performance abilities. Now...whether or not you feel that melodies could be better written to be less repetitive and more wide ranging in scope is not in question. I say great melodies are almost always inspiring........but don't always sell. And if you're list and measurements are all about what's sold........you're not actually talking about what's written........just about what's sold.

    Sorry if I'm being a bit confusing here. Hopefully you get my drift.
    Just A Song Writer..........

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    I'm not entirely sure I follow, Mickster.

    My primary thesis would be that the claim "music is getting simpler" is flawed. These things go in cycles, but popular music isn't getting inherently simpler in a meaningful way.

    Compare Royals by Lorde which is fairly lyrically dense but sonically sparse and set off a wave of sonically spares songs. Then a few years later, music started getting more sonically dense again, and you had songs like uptown funk, which is very dense as a production but lyrically fairly simple.

    The 60s saw a rise in folk music, which is very simple by most metrics (simple, singable lyrics; simple instrumentation) but also saw the rise of complex, challenging psychedelic music.

    Right now, a big part of what's trending in pop music is once again dance music. Structurally, it tends to be very simple (repetitive, danceable cycles; sometimes no lyrics at all in the primary hook) but sonically dense (those producers are doing a lot of stuff).

    It's all just music. You don't have to like it, but that doesn't make it somehow worse than what's gone before.

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    Quote Originally Posted by VomitHatSteve View Post
    but that doesn't make it somehow worse than what's gone before.
    I think that that is a point of the video. Although it starts with a critical caption "Music is stuck on repeat", by the time you get to the end you realise that it is not all bad, and that repetition is an essential part of making music listenable.

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    Yeah, the ted talk did seem to come around (tho I still question his methodology)

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    That was a great TED x talk really enjoyed it.

    Thought I'd throw this in:


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