Has music changed for the worse or better?

Emer Handly

Credit: Thinglink

Music is more than just lyrics and melodies. It is emotions, thoughts, life, love, sadness, despair. It is everything we are and everything we want to be. It is one of the most important things in this world.

Greek philosopher Plato once said; “Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”

The greatest songs ever created are still being listened to today. The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Dianna Ross, Tina Turner, Johnny Cash, Oasis, Nirvana,  The Rolling Stones and Joni Mitchelll. The list is endless. These are the people who dedicated their lives to music.

The 20th Century saw artists like AC/DC, Radiohead, The Sex Pistols and Pink Floyd take the world by storm. Rock music was in its prime.

Yet in the past two decades, music has changed in ways the great musicians could never had imagined.

Nowadays, mainstream pop music is having its time in the limelight. Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, The Vamps, Little Mix, Dua Lipa, Rihanna and (of course) Justin Bieber are all some of the most listened to artists.

Techno and electronic dance music are also becoming very popular. MK, Avicii, Kygo, Calvin Harris seem to create music that puts people into an epileptic type trance.

Rock still has its place. Red Hot Chili peppers, Arctic Monkeys, The Kooks, Catfish and the Bottlemen, and Kings of Leon are carrying on the rock ‘n’ roll legacy.

Whether or not you consider these artists to be good musicians is up to you, there will never be a worldwide agreement on that.

One thing that has to be said that lyrics are getting dumber. Musicians lyrics used to inspire, like Led Zeppelin:

Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run
There’s still time to change the road you’re on

Now we have to listen to thinks like this lyric by Lil’ Wayne. “My tongue is a uzi, my d*** is an AK / my tongue go brrr, my d*** go bah!”

A lot of music has become more about sex than about soul. Rock ‘n’ roll in the last century was all about sex and drugs, but it has a lot of meaning too and issues such as depression and anxiety were often a central part of songs.

The chords and melodies are no longer what they used to be: breathtaking sounds of genius. Beethoven and Mozart would spin in their graves if the heard some of the ‘tunes’ of this century.

Science has actually proved that music has changed in this way. A scientific study carried out by the Spanish National Research Council on pop music found that timbral (which accounts for the sound colour, texture, or tone quality) has decreased. That means that songs are more homogeneous than they used to be. In other words, all pop music sounds the same now.

The study found that pitch content has also decreased – meaning that their are less numbers of chords and different melodies. Musicians today seem to be less adventurous in moving from one chord or note to another, instead following the paths already taken by their peers.

It seems musicians are struggling to be original. However, the real problem is not that music has become predictable and therefore has gotten worse. The real problem it is that the music industry has become predictable and therefore has gotten worse. There is so much emphasis on appearance, looking cool, having sex appeal. Why? Because it sells. The new goal is; Making money over making music.

In all seriousness, every genre has a place in the music world. If people enjoy them, why shouldn’t they listen to them? Everyone has a different opinion on what ‘good’ music is. If you don’t like a particular genre, don’t listen to it.

It is really not as doom and gloom and some would like you to believe. There are still musicians who care about the music and how it helps people. In every corner of the earth there is music. No matter what language, music is the one thing that everyone can understand. As Henry Longfellow said; “Music is the universal language of mankind.”

There is no question that music has changed, but it’s roots are still there. It still inspires us, brings us joy, makes us laugh or cry, or both. Some music has evolved and is different, some music has evolved and is the same. The important thing is for us to embrace the change.

“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” ― Billy Joel.