Pop song melodies have gradually simplified – study


Two researchers at the Queen Mary University of London discovered that melodies in pop music since 1950 have gradually become simpler, their study published on Scientific Reports on Thursday showed.

The study examined pop music from primarily North America and Europe, specifically music that, at one point or another, topped the US Billboard music charts from 1950 to the current day.

A little over 20 years ago, this would have been impossible to accomplish with the lack of digital music collections.  However, ever since the early 2010s, companies like Spotify have given the public access to the majority of recorded music dating back to the turn of the 20th century.

Now that the technology is available, what did the study found?

The study found that the intricacies of rhythms and arrangements within the songs decreased gradually from 1950 to 2022, noting that the largest low points belonged to 1975 and 2000. The third lowest was in 1996.

All three of those years have valid reasons for placing so low in the study. 1975 had the pop music scene be flipped on its head with genres like new wave, punk, disco, and stadium rock. Punk especially standing out with fast linear riffs and drum beats.

JERUSALEM STREET band Marsh Dondurma. (credit: Dotan Yogev)

In 1996 and 2000, hip-hop adopted new technological advancements in the studio, like audio loops and the normalization of digital recordings.

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