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 Not that we need it, but Empirical Proof...

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Guilty/Forgiven

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PostSubject: Not that we need it, but Empirical Proof...   Thu Sep 14, 2017 11:40 am

This is truly a masterpiece of work, a very well researched short documentary. You musicians will find this very informative, if not something you already knew.


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PostSubject: Re: Not that we need it, but Empirical Proof...   Fri Sep 15, 2017 1:05 am

What he doesn't address is the fact that countless artists, just in the last 10 years, use samples from older songs to bolster theirs.

In order for so many modern pop "artists" to rise above the vast sea of today's talentless musical monotony, they must rely on what ALREADY worked - and using enough of an earlier successful song from the 60s thru 80s in their songs is a sure fire way to make their songs climb the charts quick. 
IMO this is also lazy musicianship. The occasional homage is fine, but it seems many artists are taking too much liberty with the old great songs as they know it'll be a guaranteed hit.
I liken it to taking a thousand dollar suit and putting it on a sickly homeless drunk. 

One of thousands of examples would be Kid Rock's song All Summer Long, where he combines 2 songs from the 70s (Zevon's Werewolves in London and Skynyrd's Alabama) as the groundwork for the entirety of the song.
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PostSubject: Re: Not that we need it, but Empirical Proof...   Fri Sep 15, 2017 6:22 am

I only had time to watch half of this yesterday.  I will try to finish it tonight.

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PostSubject: Re: Not that we need it, but Empirical Proof...   Fri Sep 15, 2017 9:46 am

Informative.  BRING BACK MUSICIANSHIP!!!!!
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PostSubject: Re: Not that we need it, but Empirical Proof...   Fri Sep 15, 2017 12:06 pm

I take what he's saying for face value as I have not done the research myself, but by the same token, the proof is in the rotten pudding
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PostSubject: Re: Not that we need it, but Empirical Proof...   Fri Sep 15, 2017 2:46 pm

Nice to hear it isn't just my age making me think most of modern pop music is rehashed drivel.

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PostSubject: Re: Not that we need it, but Empirical Proof...   Fri Sep 15, 2017 6:43 pm

Pop music by its very nature has to rely on formulas and familiarity in order to appeal to a mass audience.  Look back through the history of pop music (sorry, but I didn't get this degree for nothin').  Tin Pan Alley songs were all waltzes with a memorable refrain.  Big band jazz was based primarily on the chord progressions from those refrains, mostly Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm".  In the 50s, pretty much all the doo wop groups sounded alike.  Heck, most of Phil Spector's "girl groups" (like the Crystals and Ronettes) were basically the same singers recording under different names.  I think what makes this current crop of poppers seem so generic, is that we have less diversity in the industry and most of the labels are subsidiaries or spin offs from a handful of corporations.  Most radio stations are part of national networks and they play from lists sent from the parent corporation or are just syndicated feeds.

What saddens me about all of this is that it has crept into worship music as well.
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PostSubject: Re: Not that we need it, but Empirical Proof...   Fri Sep 15, 2017 11:14 pm

Totally agree. While watching, I also thought to myself about how all styles and genres of Pop have the same ingredients. That's what makes each one familiar to their respective fans. Each one also has some level of reach to their intended audience, ie radio, to overplay certain songs to "brainwash" you into liking it.

I think what it all boils down to is what you said Messiaen77 - variety. While many of us here love more fringe styles of music like metal and such, if you were to turn on POP radio in the 70s and 80s, you'd hear a VAST array of different sounds compared to today's POP (including Pop Worship) where the exact same formula is given to nearly every song.

This is not a rigid fact, rather, it's more of a majority than all encompassing.

Thoughts ?
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PostSubject: Re: Not that we need it, but Empirical Proof...   Sat Sep 16, 2017 7:38 am

Well that's just fascinating. Thanks for posting that G/F. It brings to mind a conversation I had recently with an old jazz musician/songwriter about song structure. He said that he regularly writes songs that have 7, 8, even 9 key changes! To me, that's absolutely insane. I regularly write songs with two or maybe three, but nine?! Those older styles are definitely more complex. I can't even fathom a song with 9 key changes let alone write one with that many changes.

On the other side of the coin, my songwriting mentor is forever telling me to write to the short attention span of the listener. I love the guy and I value his teaching, but I really struggle to write to THAT audience. We don't agree on that note.   lol  Guess I'll never be Britney Spears darn it!

I do, however, think we're going to see the musical landscape changing in the next few years. It seems to me that there are more and more artists who are pushing to write their own stuff. You're getting the likes of Kaleo and Shakey Graves (timbre galore in those two) on mainstream radio stations and the experimental weirdness of 21 Pilots who while based on a pop model, get pretty out there with mashing together styles and don't sound like a generic pop band. There are mainstream bands using upright bass, African drums, didgeridoos, banjos. The feeling I get (totally subjective here) is that more and more bands that actually play their instruments and write their own songs are breaking into the mainstream. So while I absolutely agree with what that very clever fellow in the documentary was saying (totally fascinating), I don't think all is lost.
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PostSubject: Re: Not that we need it, but Empirical Proof...   Sat Sep 16, 2017 9:28 am

Jen5 wrote:
On the other side of the coin, my songwriting mentor is forever telling me to write to the short attention span of the listener. I love the guy and I value his teaching, but I really struggle to write to THAT audience. We don't agree on that note.   lol  Guess I'll never be Britney Spears darn it!
I write music that I would listen to.  And if others enjoy it, great!
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PostSubject: Re: Not that we need it, but Empirical Proof...   Sat Sep 16, 2017 11:26 am

I only watched about half of this so bear that in mind. 

What he says is true of all music. There are only so many notes in the Western scale (24) and only so many ways to use them. Most people don't like jazz based chord substitutions so that's not popular. As far as using the same notes in a melody, again there are only so many notes in a scale and most of them don't sound good. If you play in the key of C and sing D, G#, B or F, it may sound unpleasant. 

That being said, the way a song sounds is what makes it that style. How similar do hair bands sound? Or country? Or jazz? What really makes some musicians subpar and others excellent is the lyrics. 

So this study started with the Beatles, the geniuses who wrote "I Want to Hold Your Hand"? Not exactly lyrical complexity. 

Pardon my cynicism but things like this have been around a long time. I recall reading an article criticizing using pianos in church to lead hymns.
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PostSubject: Re: Not that we need it, but Empirical Proof...   Sat Sep 16, 2017 3:55 pm

I shared this video with a few of my songwriting friends. One response really hit the nail on the head for me.. He said,

"For all their ‘engineering’ of these hits...they aren’t getting MY money. Those Songs are fine in their place, but I’m not a consumer for those products, recorded or live. And I’m probably representative of, if not a majority, a substantial number of potential consumers. They’ve cornered that market, the Pop Song ‘buyers’. But the market is more diverse. There’s money to be made without formula writing and production, even without the powerful distribution and promotion they employ. Just write Songs. Write good Songs. And take them to YOUR market, whatever, wherever that is."

And another said,

"There are niches everywhere big enough to allow talented musicians and groups to make a living, even if they don’t become household names or even known outside of their niche. Having said that, the video is absolutely right about the generation who grew up with this awful crap. They have indeed been brainwashed. I saw it with my daughters. What I have also seen though is that as they get older, there is just a glimmer of a suggestion that they might become interested in real music. There is hope. And, as always, unless you are backed by a million dollar promotional machine, you have a better chance of “making it” by doing something different, standing out from the crowd, breaking the mold rather than trying to squeeze yourself into it."
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alldatndensum
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PostSubject: Re: Not that we need it, but Empirical Proof...   Sun Sep 17, 2017 7:32 am

Quote :
That being said, the way a song sounds is what makes it that style. How similar do hair bands sound? Or country? Or jazz? What really makes some musicians subpar and others excellent is the lyrics. 

So this study started with the Beatles, the geniuses who wrote "I Want to Hold Your Hand"? Not exactly lyrical complexity. 

Pardon my cynicism but things like this have been around a long time. I recall reading an article criticizing using pianos in church to lead hymns.

I get what you are saying.  To someone who is not a fan of each said genre, these artists do all sound alike.

However, with hair metal band, you had differences in guitar tones as everyone wanted something unique if they could.  You could pick Ace Frehley, Eddie Van Halen, Angus Young, etc. out just by their guitar sounds.  There were singers with almost no clones like David Lee Roth, Ronnie James Dio, David Coverdale, etc. that you knew who they were just because they stood out.  Most of the clone sounding bands may have gotten some attention due to us loving our style of rock, but there is no way that Faster Pussycat was on the same level as Whitesnake.  I could list hundreds of others.  The cream rose to the top.

With classic country and even the old crooners, most of the music DID sound the same.  Why?  Because of the style and the expected instruments they used.  Country used acoustic guitars, piano, steel guitar, bass, some electric guitars, fiddles, and drums.  The crooners sang over big band orchestras.  SAME.  However, the magic was the VOICE and the LYRICS.  The lyrics had to connect to real world life.  The voice stood out.  There were a ton of wannabees in the country scene, but those combinations made winners out of George Jones, Merle Haggard, Don Williams (my childhood is dead!) while a ton of one hit wonders flamed up and out because they couldn't find their unique voice or write a great song over and over.

Now that you have the same handful of writers doing the music for every artist, there is no variety.  A unique voice is hard to find in secular or Christian music.  Even in rock, the guitars all sound the same as everyone is using the same plugins in their DAW.  Its bland.  Lyrically, you either just be as nasty as you want to be or sing generic worship phrases that have been done a million times.  There is almost nothing to make you want to listen.  I am open to trying new things, but I want there to be something that actually interests me.  Until then, I will be listening to what I know I like without venturing into modern music even if I am out of touch and labeled an old man because of it.  I can live with that.

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PostSubject: Re: Not that we need it, but Empirical Proof...   Sun Sep 17, 2017 6:13 pm

I think that's just it, and what the author said about a major lack of creativity. 

Certainly there's the "all songs sound the same within their respective genre" thing, but that's not necessarily the "problem" with today's Pop, since that argument can basically be applied to every style of music.

What is greatly LACKING (not 100% missing though) is artistic creation. Although there's nothing new under the sun (every song you hear has borrowed something from previous songs), there CAN be a creativity that makes a song rise above or separates it from the herd. The author was making the point that music industries today don't want to take that chance, but would rather stay comfortable within the same sound that sells to the majority of Pop listeners - the youth.

For me it all boils down to talented creativity. If you can click a button and play a pre-programmed, repetitive, artificial loop, then just sing over that, then it may be time to question your "talent" and especially your creativity.
This goes for what is considered Pop and what the majority "want", cuz I'm not talking about ALL potential POP artists - there are many out there who have massive talent but we will never hear from cuz the demand is to keep hearing the same crap.

It would be refreshing to hear today's bands experiment, step out of their comfort zone and create. For example, try some full orchestration like E.L.O., Queen or even the Beatles did. Artists (especially in Christian radio) need to throw in some strong changes in a songs tempo - artists in the past made it work (and so many of those songs are STILL well known and loved) like Paul McCartney and Wings - listen to how many changes are in one song... and it works ! Band on the Run, A Day in the Life, etc 

So without yammering on, I think we need some serious variety - not only from song to song on the radio, but within the songs themselves.
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PostSubject: Re: Not that we need it, but Empirical Proof...   Mon Sep 18, 2017 11:29 am

I think you also have to look at the audiences for the music.  Are you looking for music to sit and listen to or are you looking for music to have on in the background like aural wallpaper or music to dance to or music to make you feel something?  I had this discussion with a friend about Pitbull and I just couldn't understand how in the world he was so popular.  Her response:  it's fun!  It's like I said on FB a couple weeks ago regarding the new Taylor Swift songs.  My brain is constantly going between "this is supposed to be music that's light and fun that people can dance to or talk over at a party" and "there's got to be something deeper in the structures and narratives of these songs that elevates it to the level of 'art' and if there really isn't, then I need to be able to make something more out of it in order to write a paper on it."
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PostSubject: Re: Not that we need it, but Empirical Proof...   Mon Sep 18, 2017 1:11 pm

messiaen77 wrote:
I think you also have to look at the audiences for the music.  Are you looking for music to sit and listen to or are you looking for music to have on in the background like aural wallpaper or music to dance to or music to make you feel something?  I had this discussion with a friend about Pitbull and I just couldn't understand how in the world he was so popular.  Her response:  it's fun!  It's like I said on FB a couple weeks ago regarding the new Taylor Swift songs.  My brain is constantly going between "this is supposed to be music that's light and fun that people can dance to or talk over at a party" and "there's got to be something deeper in the structures and narratives of these songs that elevates it to the level of 'art' and if there really isn't, then I need to be able to make something more out of it in order to write a paper on it."

This is the biggest struggle in "worship music". I play guitar and have helped create set lists and even helped write a song. It's a difficult line to walk to be creative and still be accessible enough for people in the congregation to be engaged. And really, what's the focus of worship music? The chord changes? The clever wordplay?
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PostSubject: Re: Not that we need it, but Empirical Proof...   Mon Sep 18, 2017 1:51 pm

ishmael81 wrote:
messiaen77 wrote:
I think you also have to look at the audiences for the music.  Are you looking for music to sit and listen to or are you looking for music to have on in the background like aural wallpaper or music to dance to or music to make you feel something?  I had this discussion with a friend about Pitbull and I just couldn't understand how in the world he was so popular.  Her response:  it's fun!  It's like I said on FB a couple weeks ago regarding the new Taylor Swift songs.  My brain is constantly going between "this is supposed to be music that's light and fun that people can dance to or talk over at a party" and "there's got to be something deeper in the structures and narratives of these songs that elevates it to the level of 'art' and if there really isn't, then I need to be able to make something more out of it in order to write a paper on it."

This is the biggest struggle in "worship music". I play guitar and have helped create set lists and even helped write a song. It's a difficult line to walk to be creative and still be accessible enough for people in the congregation to be engaged. And really, what's the focus of worship music? The chord changes? The clever wordplay?
I would always go with the wordplay.  Clever chord changes are nice, but people need clever wording.  And rain apparently.

Have you seen this?

http://www.soundlinkmagazine.com/emery-frontman-releases-worship-song-outsells-actual-worship-artists/
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PostSubject: Re: Not that we need it, but Empirical Proof...   Mon Sep 18, 2017 2:09 pm

messiaen77 wrote:
ishmael81 wrote:
messiaen77 wrote:
I think you also have to look at the audiences for the music.  Are you looking for music to sit and listen to or are you looking for music to have on in the background like aural wallpaper or music to dance to or music to make you feel something?  I had this discussion with a friend about Pitbull and I just couldn't understand how in the world he was so popular.  Her response:  it's fun!  It's like I said on FB a couple weeks ago regarding the new Taylor Swift songs.  My brain is constantly going between "this is supposed to be music that's light and fun that people can dance to or talk over at a party" and "there's got to be something deeper in the structures and narratives of these songs that elevates it to the level of 'art' and if there really isn't, then I need to be able to make something more out of it in order to write a paper on it."

This is the biggest struggle in "worship music". I play guitar and have helped create set lists and even helped write a song. It's a difficult line to walk to be creative and still be accessible enough for people in the congregation to be engaged. And really, what's the focus of worship music? The chord changes? The clever wordplay?
I would always go with the wordplay.  Clever chord changes are nice, but people need clever wording.  And rain apparently.

Have you seen this?

http://www.soundlinkmagazine.com/emery-frontman-releases-worship-song-outsells-actual-worship-artists/

I hear you - I like wordplay that is still worshipful. That's why I enjoy John Mark McMillan and All Sons & Daughters. They are worshipful but their lyrics have a lot to say.

As for the Toby song, I hadn't seen it but as someone who used to listen to the BCP, I can see why it would have outcharted those other groups. I imagine folks like us who want more from worship music wanted to hear it and listens and/or downloads is what influences the charts.
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PostSubject: Re: Not that we need it, but Empirical Proof...   Tue Sep 19, 2017 6:23 am

messiaen77 wrote:
ishmael81 wrote:
messiaen77 wrote:
I think you also have to look at the audiences for the music.  Are you looking for music to sit and listen to or are you looking for music to have on in the background like aural wallpaper or music to dance to or music to make you feel something?  I had this discussion with a friend about Pitbull and I just couldn't understand how in the world he was so popular.  Her response:  it's fun!  It's like I said on FB a couple weeks ago regarding the new Taylor Swift songs.  My brain is constantly going between "this is supposed to be music that's light and fun that people can dance to or talk over at a party" and "there's got to be something deeper in the structures and narratives of these songs that elevates it to the level of 'art' and if there really isn't, then I need to be able to make something more out of it in order to write a paper on it."

This is the biggest struggle in "worship music". I play guitar and have helped create set lists and even helped write a song. It's a difficult line to walk to be creative and still be accessible enough for people in the congregation to be engaged. And really, what's the focus of worship music? The chord changes? The clever wordplay?
I would always go with the wordplay.  Clever chord changes are nice, but people need clever wording.  And rain apparently.

Have you seen this?

http://www.soundlinkmagazine.com/emery-frontman-releases-worship-song-outsells-actual-worship-artists/


Clever wording is nice, but some great musicianship would be awesome, too.  Pick up Lincoln Brewster's first album through "Today Is The Day".  It is both worshipful AND entertaining.  You don't have to have it so much in church, but sometimes I want to listen to something like this to help get me back to a more worshipful mood.  Better music draws my ears until the words start drawing my heart.

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PostSubject: Re: Not that we need it, but Empirical Proof...   Tue Sep 19, 2017 10:58 am

Yeah, I was actually being sarcastic about the wordplay.  I love a good lyric and I love great musicianship, but the focus of worship music should clearly be about the One being worshipped.  There's no reason we can't worship God with great poetry and great music.

I consider worship music to be a different creature than radio music, which is why Christian radio doesn't really work for me anymore.  Worship music should always be somewhat simple because it should be something that people can sing with, and not just trained singers.  Everyone.
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PostSubject: Re: Not that we need it, but Empirical Proof...   Thu Sep 21, 2017 2:33 pm

The thing with P&W today is, you can immediately recognize it. When I'm scanning radio stations in a town away from home, I can immediately tell if the song on a station is Christian. There's just a common "sound" that makes me sigh and think "why can't I land on a station and be taken by incredible talent and a draw to want to listen more... only to be surprised that it's a Christian station" ? This would also be advantageous to drawing in the world to listening to Christian music, which is what we want to do.

Some earlier praise/worship songs had variety and craftsmanship that not only praised the One Who deserves our praise, but could be enjoyed by both the One praised and the praiser

God requests a new song as He knows man is fickle and gets burned out quickly - just as Manna everyday gets old, so do the same songs and the same sounding songs.

One of the most powerful praise songs ever, yet so very simple... just putting the words written thousands of years ago to the right sound can send His children into a full on submission to Him:
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PostSubject: Re: Not that we need it, but Empirical Proof...   Thu Sep 21, 2017 5:33 pm

Here's a quick vid that's relevant to this overall thread:
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PostSubject: Re: Not that we need it, but Empirical Proof...   Thu Sep 21, 2017 6:09 pm

Ah man. I love that guy.
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PostSubject: Re: Not that we need it, but Empirical Proof...   Sat Sep 23, 2017 6:47 am

He makes a great point, Jim.  While there is a major industry out there that we don't want what they are putting out, we don't have to listen.  Our dollars are dead to them anyway or they'd be marketing to us.

What we need to do is work harder as artists to achieve our goals without the labels.  Even the industry has shown that they will sign something once it gets enough followers since it has a track record.  Regardless, we need new musical based companies to launch new ideas to help artists to connect with potential listeners.  We need small labels willing to risk for artists filling the gaps within existing and new genres.  We need to support those bands by buying their albums or helping with their crowdfunding when possible.  On the artist side, we need to learn to create without NEEDING the support so that we can actually profit from our works instead of being in the hole from the getgo.

It is daunting, but the mainstream media can be challenged.  There are news sites that rival and have passed CNN and Fox News.  Netflix has completely shaken tv networks.  Small Christian films have come out of nowhere to be super successful in theaters.  Why can't the music industry be taken on?  It can, but we need old school artists with the know-how of the industry to mix with new school dreamers and build an alternative to radio.  Until streaming actually pays artists and all phone plans are unlimited, this isn't viable.  XM plays only what the labels allow for the most part and aren't looking to make or break new bands and artists.  We NEED a new model that targets potential fans with sounds they will find exciting and not flood the market with 10,000 clones.

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PostSubject: Re: Not that we need it, but Empirical Proof...   Sat Sep 23, 2017 6:11 pm

You're right, alldat. I think these shakers and movers are already out there doing great work. There's a guy here in NZ who hosts a radio show on i-heart radio. He takes 30% of his playlist from homegrown bands. In fact, he feels so strongly about supporting new acts that are outside of the mainstream that he took his radio show away from the nation's biggest rock station (he'd been there 20+ years) and moved to i-heart radio because he wanted to do things a little differently. I think that's awesome in a small country like NZ. It means that a small town band with no money to back them can play alongside Metallica. Awesome stuff. More folks like that would be a real boon for artists. More and more indie labels are coming out, which is great, plus have you noticed that more and more successful artists are opening their own small studios where they work with indie artists in between doing their own productions? We just need more folks like these.

What you say about unlimited data for phone plans is a really good point. I'd never thought of that before. Things that make me go, "hmmm."
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