Technology- has it ruined music?

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deacon blues
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Technology- has it ruined music?

Post by deacon blues » Sat Mar 18, 2023 6:57 am

I've been reading a book about Steely Dan and it got me thinking about music since the 1960's. For me it has steadily been going downhill. :roll:
Now this is a common reaction. People typically (My Mom and Dad- 1940's, and my Grandmas- 1920's are examples) love the music they grew up with, and I grew up in the '60's/70's. Well, I graduated from high school in '74.
But seriously. Isn't the drum machined, auto-tuned, overproduced/over-perfected stuff that gets performed at Super Bowl halftimes and celebrated on the Grammy awards an artistic regression; and what does this mean for civilization as we know it? :(
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Cnsl1
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Re: Technology- has it ruined music?

Post by Cnsl1 » Sat Mar 18, 2023 8:03 am

I feel your pain.

IMO, there are some very talented people making some very nice music, but it's not the stuff you see on mainstream media. It's more difficult to find.

What does today's Mozart do? The Jimmy Hendrix? There are still the prodigies, but sometimes they get lost in the technology.

Again, IMO.

The music business has changed dramatically over the last 2 decades, and astronomically over the last 5. It is easier to get your crap out there in the world, but it's also easier to find gems from the past. My kids all like much of the music of my youth and in some cases, know that music better than I do or ever did.

Much of "today's " music is very boring to me. I find the melodies lacking and the chordal structure nonexistent. I think the musicians of our day had some musical training, or more of it at least. It also seemed like they took more time to put together a song and an album. It feels kinda like we're regressing towards cave man days with our music ingenuity, but with high tech noise makers.

I think it's more than age bias that draws humans towards common chordal structures. The basic I, IV, V chords feel good to us. That's why we did it for so long. I hear music now that stays in the same chord for the entire song. Why? Are they pushing the musical envelope or just ignorant? You might say more thought goes into the rhythm, but often that seems terribly boring too. Lyrics? Maybe.

The Rap genre obviously pushed the envelope with musical structure and sorta became an art form of it's own. The ingenuity was in the lyrics not the music.

This was different from other genres where maybe the music structure is the same, but the ingenuity was in the lyrics AND the musicianship.

I often hear something "new and awesome" and come away thinking "where's the guitar solo"? Hell, I can play this.

Is it age bias?

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wtfluff
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Re: Technology- has it ruined music?

Post by wtfluff » Sat Mar 18, 2023 11:07 am

deacon blues wrote:
Sat Mar 18, 2023 6:57 am
Technology- has it ruined music?
Not yet.

Not completely.

There are still some "old-school" folks out there.



Give it some time though, and technology might complete the ruining. :(
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Ghost
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Re: Technology- has it ruined music?

Post by Ghost » Sat Mar 18, 2023 11:31 am

There is a ton of great music being produced today, with and without modern technology. The things that become the most popular or win music awards (same thing) are absolutely the wrong things to focus on. They are always going to be boring.

For most people, music seems to "peak" with their high school or college years. But that can't possibly make sense because that phenomenon has been going on for ages and so the "window" constantly changes.

If you browse https://bandcamp.com/ I think you are very likely to find something new and exciting. I could provide examples, as I constantly find new things, but my examples would only reflect my own tastes. But still, I recommend trying it.

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DPRoberts
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Re: Technology- has it ruined music?

Post by DPRoberts » Sun Mar 19, 2023 2:09 pm

deacon blues wrote:
Sat Mar 18, 2023 6:57 am
But seriously. Isn't the drum machined, auto-tuned, overproduced/over-perfected stuff that gets performed at Super Bowl halftimes and celebrated on the Grammy awards an artistic regression; and what does this mean for civilization as we know it? :(
I wonder about this. I think music for the masses could easily be produced by machines at some point in the near future. It was only about a decade or so ago IIRC that a computer algorithm was able to predict the Grammy winners one year. The algorithm was conceptually straightforward enough. It would structurally analyze a song and then compare it to a similar deconstruction of the top hit songs of the past. It does not seem so great a leap to go from picking the hits to writing new ones if that is the method. A little machine learning, a little AI, and some capitalist-owned bit of hardware can churn out the mediocre mass market money-makers you describe. Probably seems like the holy grail to some music exec who is only in it from the business side of things, with no love for cultivating talent.

From there I can see a further escalation of struggle developing as the money side of music clashes with the very human impulse to innovate and create. That clash has been going on for a while now. I wonder if it really is money that is ruining music, with technology just being the latest tool of the mass market business execs. I am inclined to agree with Ghost that there is good music being produced, but you have to go looking for it ( and thank you for the link to bandcamp.com, I need to do some listening).

The wildcard in all this mess is the consumer. At the end of the day the artist has to eat, so the indie artists need to at least make a sufficient amount of money to devote their full time to their own artistic development and evolution. That means there has to be a critical mass of discriminating listeners willing to find and support the good independent talent.
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Re: Technology- has it ruined music?

Post by Just This Guy » Mon Mar 20, 2023 6:28 am

If someone were to develop an AI to listen to popular music and generate new musics based on what is popular, I would expect that you end up with something like Nickleback.

Everywhere you go,any one you ask, they always say they hate Nickleback. They are the butt of sooo many jokes about the music industry. But somehow, they still make music, get stuff on the radio, and got good attendance at their concerts. Even their more recent albums still make it to midway to the top 100 lists. They are not superstars, but they are solid financially.

Whether it is intentional or not, they manage to know exactly what is popular and write music to fill that. A lot of people don't like them for being so formulaic, but there must also be a lot of people who do like them, or at least have them as a guilty pleasure band.

I suspect AI generated music would be similar. it would be formulaic and repetitive, because that is literally what it is designed to be: copy what is popular. Many people will publicly talk about how much they don't like it. But in the end, it is musical comfort food. It may be guilty pleasure stuff that no one wants to publically admit to liking, but it will end up selling.
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Re: Technology- has it ruined music?

Post by Ghost » Mon Mar 20, 2023 7:38 am

Back in 2001, a group took a poll (at a university, I think) to determine qualities that people liked and didn't like in music. They then made a song that included all of the elements that people didn't like. For example, many of those polled didn't care for opera, rap, country, commercial lyrics, long songs, holiday lyrics, and so on.

The Most Unwanted Song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDh4o0rOvr0

They also created a song based on what those polled did like, but it's not nearly as entertaining:

The Most Wanted Song: https://youtu.be/jId-qaEwuvI?list=OLAK5 ... Sc_kLC9DHA

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Re: Technology- has it ruined music?

Post by RubinHighlander » Mon Mar 20, 2023 9:47 am

I surf a very broad spectrum of music and it's a big part of my life and my family's lives, 4 out of our six kids are in bands, writing their own music and one has a masters and is now a theater director at the HS she went to. I played in the jazz band for four years at the local university and my wife performed professionally and sang in some bands. From our perspective, ever single decade has produced incredible music. I just found two new bands recently that I love. I see and hear the influence of the music of the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s all working its way around some of the new music of today, as well as new sounds and styles evolving. The noise level of the music industry is certainly incredibly crazy now, so many artists and the digital explosive nature of it across the globe. But somehow, vinyl is still thriving and I'm still buying it. From my first Boston album in 1977 to the latest artists; if it's an album I love I'll buy it on vinyl and we spin several of them every week.

There have certainly been shifts in recording styles and I do think when CDs came out, the mixing wasn't great and still suffers at times. But I think the quality got better for digital over time and now people have enough affordable tech they can do pretty great things right on their PCs. But I'm not a purest to say that analog vs. digital is superior, just that the writing, performing, recording, production and playback quality make the difference. Seems like a lot of folks get stuck in their generation and favorite genres and don't venture out much. I have a friend who played jazz with me in the 80s and is just stuck in the rock and roll and jazz genres, doesn't like much else, as I've tried to send a few newer things his way.

What's really added to my musical journeys is the mary jane. Those molecules have brought new life to much of my oldest music, opening up new layers and subtle sounds that I'd never noticed before. It's been an incredible experience and added whole new layers of depth to my relationship with all my music. So just like anything, perspective is everything.
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Re: Technology- has it ruined music?

Post by wtfluff » Mon Mar 20, 2023 1:50 pm

RubinHighlander wrote:
Mon Mar 20, 2023 9:47 am
...
But somehow, vinyl is still thriving and I'm still buying it. From my first Boston album in 1977 to the latest artists; if it's an album I love I'll buy it on vinyl and we spin several of them every week.
...
Metallica Buys Vinyl Pressing Plant...
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Re: Technology- has it ruined music?

Post by RubinHighlander » Tue Mar 21, 2023 5:15 pm

wtfluff wrote:
Mon Mar 20, 2023 1:50 pm
RubinHighlander wrote:
Mon Mar 20, 2023 9:47 am
...
But somehow, vinyl is still thriving and I'm still buying it. From my first Boston album in 1977 to the latest artists; if it's an album I love I'll buy it on vinyl and we spin several of them every week.
...
Metallica Buys Vinyl Pressing Plant...
Well that's pretty sweet!
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deacon blues
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Re: Technology- has it ruined music?

Post by deacon blues » Wed Mar 22, 2023 1:24 pm

Ghost wrote:
Mon Mar 20, 2023 7:38 am
Back in 2001, a group took a poll (at a university, I think) to determine qualities that people liked and didn't like in music. They then made a song that included all of the elements that people didn't like. For example, many of those polled didn't care for opera, rap, country, commercial lyrics, long songs, holiday lyrics, and so on.

The Most Unwanted Song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDh4o0rOvr0

They also created a song based on what those polled did like, but it's not nearly as entertaining:

The Most Wanted Song: https://youtu.be/jId-qaEwuvI?list=OLAK5 ... Sc_kLC9DHA
This made me chuckle. :lol:
And then I thought of "Society's Child" by Janis Ian, or "Long Black Veil" by Johnny Cash, or "Danny Boy" by a lot of people. :cry:
Then I thought of "I Hurt Myself Today" by Johnny Cash. :cry: And I was comforted. :D
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Re: Technology- has it ruined music?

Post by wtfluff » Wed Mar 22, 2023 2:39 pm

deacon blues wrote:
Wed Mar 22, 2023 1:24 pm
Ghost wrote:
Mon Mar 20, 2023 7:38 am
Back in 2001, a group took a poll (at a university, I think) to determine qualities that people liked and didn't like in music. They then made a song that included all of the elements that people didn't like. For example, many of those polled didn't care for opera, rap, country, commercial lyrics, long songs, holiday lyrics, and so on.

The Most Unwanted Song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDh4o0rOvr0

They also created a song based on what those polled did like, but it's not nearly as entertaining:

The Most Wanted Song: https://youtu.be/jId-qaEwuvI?list=OLAK5 ... Sc_kLC9DHA
This made me chuckle. :lol:
And then I thought of "Society's Child" by Janis Ian, or "Long Black Veil" by Johnny Cash, or "Danny Boy" by a lot of people. :cry:
Then I thought of "I Hurt Myself Today" by Johnny Cash. :cry: And I was comforted. :D
Correction: "Hurt" written by Trent Reznor, covered by Johnny Cash.

Yes, Johnny's version is probably one of the best covers and videos ever made. Even Trent admitted that when he heard Johnny was going to cover his song, he was a bit upset, but after Trent saw Johnny's version/video, Trent admitted that "Hurt wasn't 'his' any more."
Faith does not give you the answers, it just stops you asking the questions. -Frater Ravus

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Re: Technology- has it ruined music?

Post by Hagoth » Sat Mar 25, 2023 8:39 pm

I don't usually watch the Grammys but I did a couple of years ago and I felt like I was just hearing multiple versions of the same pop song over and over, some with an R&B mod, some with a Country mod, etc. I switched it off and cranked up the Frank Zappa.
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Re: Technology- has it ruined music?

Post by moksha » Mon Mar 27, 2023 6:15 pm

I've wondered what some popular songs would sound like without autotune. I can imagine Pentatonix without autotune since they perform on stage live (even in venues like an elementary school auditorium without equipment), but what would Perfume sound like? How about your favorite artists?
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Re: Technology- has it ruined music?

Post by PalmSprings » Tue Apr 18, 2023 2:55 pm

deacon blues wrote:
Sat Mar 18, 2023 6:57 am
I've been reading a book about Steely Dan and it got me thinking about music since the 1960's. For me it has steadily been going downhill. :roll:
Now this is a common reaction. People typically (My Mom and Dad- 1940's, and my Grandmas- 1920's are examples) love the music they grew up with, and I grew up in the '60's/70's. Well, I graduated from high school in '74.
But seriously. Isn't the drum machined, auto-tuned, overproduced/over-perfected stuff that gets performed at Super Bowl halftimes and celebrated on the Grammy awards an artistic regression; and what does this mean for civilization as we know it? :(
I think you pretty much answered your own question. If I may tweak it a bit and say it's the improper use of the technology that has ruined music. They are using the technology to try and achieve perfection in a recording in every aspect and it just doesn't work. Steely Dan is a great counterpoint to the perfection debate as they wanted perfection as well. However the difference between Steely Dan and using a computer program was that they were striving for perfection that was the most humanly possible. This resulted in a natural sounding record and not robotic.
RubinHighlander wrote:
Mon Mar 20, 2023 9:47 am
There have certainly been shifts in recording styles and I do think when CDs came out, the mixing wasn't great and still suffers at times. But I think the quality got better for digital over time and now people have enough affordable tech they can do pretty great things right on their PCs. But I'm not a purest to say that analog vs. digital is superior, just that the writing, performing, recording, production and playback quality make the difference. Seems like a lot of folks get stuck in their generation and favorite genres and don't venture out much. I have a friend who played jazz with me in the 80s and is just stuck in the rock and roll and jazz genres, doesn't like much else, as I've tried to send a few newer things his way.

I agree that there were some CDs that didn't sound quite right when they were first introduced. On the other hand that is only part of the story. Most CDs released were just copies of masters that were specifically mixed for records. The covers on CDs weren't joking when they said "The CD may reveal flaws in the original analog recording." IMO the vast majority of CDs still sounded better than their vinyl counterparts. Also there are plenty of CDs from the 80s that still sound excellent (and better) by today's standards. I've still yet to find a poorly mastered CD from GRP records from the time period for instance. Of course if Contemporary/Smooth Jazz wasn't your thing you wouldn't know. Sheffield Labs is another label famous for their great recordings. I can't really agree that that the use of digital has improved overall as there are some very poor recent recordings out there. The technology is definitely better, but if you don't know how to use it, it's useless.

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