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Scientists: Modern Pop Music All Sounds The Same

By Peter V. Milo
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Justin Bieber, the end product of a rich tapestry of popular American music (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Justin Bieber, the end product of a rich tapestry of popular American music (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

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SEATTLE (CBS Seattle) – It’s not just you – all modern pop music sounds the same, and science proves it.

Reuters reports that researchers in Spain found that pop songs have become louder in the past 50 years, and the melodies, sound types, and chords have become less diverse and more homogenous.

The study, conducted by the Spanish National Research Council, was led by Joan Serra, a specialist in Artificial Intelligence.

Using the Million Song Dataset, an archive of music that breaks down music so its data could be crunched, the researchers ran 50 years’ worth of pop music through their algorithms and found “evidence of a progressive homogenization of the musical discourse.”

“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,” Serra told Reuters.

The other thing Serra and her researchers found was that the timbre palette has diminished over the years. Timbre — also known as tone color or tone quality – is the quality that makes the difference between two different instruments playing the same note at the same volume.

If the timbre palette is decreasing in size, it means less sounds are being used in music, thereby making less variety.

The one thing that is increasing as time goes on is the intrinsic volume — the volume that a track is mixed at. This allows the song to sound louder than other songs even when played at the same volume.

All though it’s tempting to point fingers at modern pop stars like Justin Bieber and blame them for the decline in pop music, the report that the Spanish researchers released does not blame individual performers or producers.

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