• Benj96
    1.5k
    With the amount of data being provided by apps like Spotify and iTunes, along with the development of auto tune, it seems these days that song writing has become ever more of a formula/algorithm and singers are more often selected based on their physical attraction/charm or social standing rather than their raw singing ability.

    Does this erode the natural basis for musical talent and authenticity? If anyone can now sing like a professional die to technology, and highly likeable songs are being mass produced like a high volume factory output, do we not see a diminishing impact for those that write songs from the soul, and sing because it's what they were born to do?

    Is musical originality dying? Artists certainly are not as rare as they used to be.
  • Joshs
    4.2k
    With the amount of data being provided by apps like Spotify and iTunes, along with the development of auto tune, it seems these days that song writing has become ever more of a formula/algorithm and singers are more often selected based on their physical attraction/charm or social standing rather than their raw singing ability. Is musical originality dying? Artists certainly are not as rare as they used to be.Benj96

    If it is, I don’t think that formulaic songwriting is the cause so much as a symptom of a decline in originality. If you want to see originality in popular music, you have to find it in the culture more generally. Exciting new trends in the arts are made possible by the fact that a segment of culture has come upon a fork in the road and stumbled on a new world, and then writes or sings or paints about it. Everyone seems to be stuck on the same old path at the moment. It’s fashionable to blame capitalism for this stagnation but this misses the point.
  • Tom Storm
    5.8k
    s musical originality dying? Artists certainly are not as rare as they used to be.Benj96

    Maybe consider this. I heard your argument being presented in similar terms 40 years ago; 30 years ago; 20 years ago...
  • Joshs
    4.2k
    Maybe consider this. I heard your argument being presented in similar terms 40 years ago; 30 years ago; 20 years ago...Tom Storm

    Maybe they were right, and the phenomenon has gotten progressively worse. If you google cultural
    stagnation, you will find dozens of articles on how the sciences are not producing new breakthroughs like they used to, and 1970 is cited as a key demarcation point. Some focus on quantum physics and the decline in innovation the field. Much is being written about how the digital revolution pales in comparison with the industrial revolution in its contribution to increase in standard
    of living. Even those in silicon valley , such as Peter Thiel, agree with this assessment. Others have noticed the same trend in philosophy , literature and poetry.

    “Hollywood movies are boring. Television is boring. Pop music is boring. The art world is boring. Broadway is boring. Books from big publishing are boring,”(W.David Marx)
  • Fooloso4
    3.7k
    Writing and making music overlaps with but is not the same thing as entertainment. There may be original music we have never heard because it lacks what is regarded as entertainment value. Making music and listening to or purchasing music are not the same.

    The demand for originality is a questionable value. Authenticity can suffer from the desire for originality.
  • Tom Storm
    5.8k
    Could be right. I have never engaged with pop, not even when young. I listened to classical, later blues and jazz. The aesthetics of rock don’t interest me. I thought the shitness of most things was my lack of interest and my age. I remember my Dad complaining that music went off in the 1950’s.
  • Banno
    19.9k
    ,

    It just depends on where you go for your music. If you restrict yourself to Spotify you get what you deserve. Instead, go down to the shops and listen to the local live music or go get online and find some independent stuff.

    Your music will only become "a formula/algorithm" if you are a lazy sponge.

    "Original" stuff is just stuff you haven't heard before. There's plenty of bad music you haven't heard. Originality is not quality. Nor is what is original the same as what is pleasant.

    Now, more than ever, what you listen to is down to you. If you are listening to shit, you are doing it wrong.

    Listen to The Music Show.
  • Noble Dust
    6.3k


    In a way, yes. I made a thread awhile back about the gestation periods of art forms. I'm of the position that music has peaked and is on the decline. Kind of depressing, but I think it's the reality. In terms of talent taking a back seat to someone's looks, or the mass produced nature of modern music, I always have to remind myself that the music industry is an industry; it exists to make money like any other industry.

    Musical artistry can exist independently from the music industry. Musical artists like myself who still have day jobs can still create authentic music and share it with a few people.
  • Wayfarer
    16.7k
    I've come to the sad conclusion that there's far too much popular music. I recall seeing, about 20 years ago, auditions for one of those TV talent shows - Voice, or something - with people literaly lined around the block to audition. A lot of them couldn't sing for shit, they were complete no-talents, but they were convinced they were Going To Be A Star. There are literally billions of these people. Probably, some thousands of them are actually talented, and some smaller number again are exceptional, but there's so much content, so much noise, that they're almost impossible to discern.

    I actually write songs myself (see here) at one stage I thought they might have commercial potential, but long ago came to the realisation that it was not to be. But in the process, I learned to use LogicPro, which is the Apple music production platform, and it's utterly phenomenal. You can create any kind of ensemble, any kind of instrumentation, anything from a small band to a symphony orchestra - it has millions of loops of pre-made riffs and sounds and all manner of instruments. Utterly incredible. But there are probably tens of millions, and maybe hundreds of millions, of people with these tools now, all vying for attention and trying to find an audience.

    Sometimes, I imagine what life would be like for performing musicians if there were no recorded or digitally-produced music. You as a listener could only hear music if you went to a venue and listened. It would be a vastly different world. Instead now it's being thrown at you from speakers in all the stores, we're literally drowning in it. All that said, still love music, but I'm a grand-dad now, and feel much the same about music today as my grand-dad did when I was a teen.
  • Joshs
    4.2k
    Writing and making music overlaps with but is not the same thing as entertainment. There may be original music we have never heard because it lacks what is regarded as entertainment value. Making music and listening to or purchasing music are not the same.Fooloso4

    This prompts the question, why does an art form fail to speak to an audience? It can do so if it is lacking in originality, if it is considered boringly predictable and familiar. But why does an original work fail to connect? We assume this is becausethe public isn’t ready for it , they can’t relate to the ideas and feelings it expresses. But the interconnectedness of society makes it impossible for an individual’s outlook to be positioned completely outside of the rest of culture. This is why audiences eventually come around to music they considered unrelatable initially. But why was it artists from Bach and Mozart , to Ellington , Coltrane , Hendrix and Dylan connected immediately with an audience of some size? Where they not original enough?
  • Noble Dust
    6.3k
    I learned to use LogicProWayfarer

    I use Logic as well. Quite a powerful program. I've been using it for over 10 years and am still learning it. It's a bit of an endless rabbit hole.
  • Joshs
    4.2k
    Musical artistry can exist independently from the music industry. Musical artists like myself who still have day jobs can still create authentic music and share it with a few people.Noble Dust

    If your authentic music is great music, you don’t think it can find its way to a large audience? I do. I think we dont hear great breakthrough music on the order of the first ragtime , swing, bebop, rocknroll,psychedelia, punk or hip hop not because of the ‘industry’ but because it isn't being written. The industry isnt the bad guy here. We all are. Revolutionary thoughts and feelings simply aren’t in the air these days. Too many old people living longer and too few births leads to creative stagnation in the culture.
  • Wayfarer
    16.7k
    I recall reading that one of the things that drove Coltrane to his early death from heart attack was the requirement to keep creating something entirely new. Jazz at the time was in a period of frenetic evolution, with a handful of supremely talented individuals constantly trying to come up with the next big thing. Maybe the quest for novelty is one of the faces of the 'creative destruction' that characterises modern culture.
  • Joshs
    4.2k

    I recall reading that one of the things that drove Coltrane to his early death from heart attack was the requirement to keep creating something entirely new. Jazz at the time was in a period of frenetic evolution, with a handful of supremely talented individuals constantly trying to come up with the next big thing. Maybe the quest for novelty is one of the faces of the 'creative destruction' that characterises modern culture.
    Wayfarer

    Many pop artists fight against the opposite pressure. The public expects endless regurgitation of the old product and style , while the artist is hell-bent on leaving their recent success behind them and following their muse into new territory. The music industry’s idea of the ‘next big thing’ is what stays within the formula of the previous big thing and they recoil in horror at true originality.
  • Wayfarer
    16.7k
    I guess so. I wrote in another thread that I recently re-discovered David Crosby, who died just the other day, of Crosby Still and Nash fame. He had long periods of quiescence, but in his last ten years made a number of albums with various collaborators, across a diverse range of styles and sounds. I don't like all the songs, but I'm impressed with how he kept coming up with new ideas instead of simply falling back on his greatest hits and tried-and-true techniques.
  • Banno
    19.9k
    I've no talent and very little skill, but I play anyway. There's a friggin' madness pervading talk of music that wraps it with talent, authenticity, originality and commercial success. That's all bullshit.

    Anyone can make music , and should. Treating it as a specialisation is a perversion. Even the juxtaposition evident in this thread between performer and audience has a corrupting influence. Music is a basic human faculty.

    If you don't like the music you are listening to, listen to something else. If you don't like what you are playing, play something different.
  • Mww
    3.7k
    “…. One likes to believe in the freedom of music
    But glittering prizes and endless compromises
    Shatter the illusion of integrity…”
    (Rush, Permanent Waves, 1980)
  • Janus
    13.2k
    :up:

    I don't buy the idea that music and the arts in general are stagnating because everything has already been done, or we're not coming up with revolutionary worldviews The idea that there must be a continual evolution of new forms in art and music grows out of a simplistic view of quality in the arts being a matter of originality. Authenticity is more to the point; meaning finding your own voice or vision rather than imitating or comparing yourself with others. There is not endless scope for formal originality, but there is endless scope for authenticity.

    Look at the history of Chinese or Japanese painting for example; little formal innovation, but centuries of great work nonetheless.

    This is the dilemma for artists; success often comes with a market that demands what it has become accustomed to. One of the best bands around today, in my view, Radiohead, resist this and are constantly reinventing themselves.
  • Banno
    19.9k
    I don't buy the idea that music and the arts in general are stagnating because everything has already been done,Janus

    And first nations Australians dance the same dance they have done for the last forty thousand years!

    Long live stagnation!
  • Janus
    13.2k
    Good example!

    Maybe the quest for novelty is one of the faces of the 'creative destruction' that characterises modern culture.Wayfarer

    :up: An authentic voice or vision will always be new, even if not formally innovative. Seeking novelty for its own sake paves the road to mediocrity.
  • Banno
    19.9k
    Seeking novelty for its own sake paves the road to mediocrity.Janus

    It's worse than that. It's a tool of commerce, inventing the need to purchase novelty. but more, in not having a base, it fails to embed itself in the world, becoming the ultimate superficiality.

    But an undue emphasis on "authenticity" will do exactly the same thing.
  • Fooloso4
    3.7k
    . Even the juxtaposition evident in this thread between performer and audience has a corrupting influence.Banno

    Performer and audience typically occupy different positions, separated by a stage, and subject to rules of etiquette that vary with musical style. In some cases audience participation is encouraged but in others frowned upon.

    A recording, especially a studio recording, separates performer from audience. In both cases they are at a distance, but some musicians feed off the energy of the audience.

    I would not go so far as to say it is a perversion, but agree with the point that the division is not essential to music, and that something is lost when the practice of music making is left to specialists. On the other hand, only specialists are capable of playing some music. With few exceptions years of dedicated study and practice are necessary to play this music competently.
  • Janus
    13.2k
    But an undue emphasis on "authenticity" will do exactly the same thing.Banno

    All it means is not imitating others for effect or seeking to appear original. If you don't do those things and work simply to improve you will find your own voice or vision. That's all I mean by authenticity.
  • Joshs
    4.2k
    I don't buy the idea that music and the arts in general are stagnating because everything has already been done, or we're not coming up with revolutionary worldviews The idea that there must be a continual evolution of new forms in art and music grows out of a simplistic view of quality in the arts being a matter of originality. Authenticity is more to the point; meaning finding your own voice or vision rather than imitating or comparing yourself with others. There is not endless scope for formal originality, but there is endless scope for authenticity.Janus

    I dont think authenticity and originality can be separated. One doesn't have the urge to create unless what one is conjuring expresses something new for them, something they have not already experienced elsewhere. I think Heidegger had it right. Authenticity is tapping into the source of innovation rather than relying on the conventionally determined. Great art takes you someplace new , allows you to feel things in a fresh way, offers a new aesthetic vocabulary. Not just in relation to what came before , but within the bounds of its own essence.

    A great piece of music introduces you to a landscape , and then takes you on an adventure where this landscape constantly changes. Looking at a history of art book not only allows you to appreciate each creation in isolation , but tells a story of exciting innovations of seeing and feeling from one period to the next. An essential element of the power of Renaissance or Romantic or Modernist art is the energy, confidence and sense of elation you are invited to share with the artist over their discovery of a way of depicting feeling that their predecessors couldn’t grasp. The freshness of the discovery is embedded within the art itself. This is why the endless recycling of a style of painting produces increasingly weary, played-out emotions. The works become more and more mannered, self-conscious, calculated.
  • Joshs
    4.2k
    I don't buy the idea that music and the arts in general are stagnating because everything has already been done,
    — Janus

    And first nations Australians dance the same dance they have done for the last forty thousand years!

    Long live stagnation!
    Banno

    The pace of cultural change is an accelerative curve. If one lives in a culture which belongs to the slower changing portion of that trajectory it is not as if there is no change at all taking place. One creates to express, and expression always innovates. We in the 21st century belong to a much faster moving period of that curve. One doesn't produce art in a calculated fashion to ‘keep up’ with some externally defined criterion of innovation, one keeps up with oneself, that is , one’s personal shifts in outlook and feeling. If one happens to live in a time and place ( such as San Francisco in 1967) and happens to be a pop musician, one’s personal outlook as reflected in the music one writes may very well capture a revolution in progress, simultaneously in one’s own head and in the insanely speeding-up world around one. It just so happened that a particular drug, LSD, helped to catalyze a profound reorientation toward almost every aspect of the world, and one can hear this in the music of that era. For those who are Beatles fans, you are hearing explosive change in every note of the songs on Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sergeant Pepper , the White Album, Abbey Road and Let it Be, as well as in the musical transformations from one album to the next.

    Now we are in a slower moving time for music. You can hear this in the songs. They are less ecstatic , less confident , less intense, less explosive, less viola art , less purely experimental. For a public that is not in a revolutionary mood , this music may sound just fine, and feel perfectly fitting. The older music may appear naive, utopian. And yet it is now considered classic by younger as well as older generations. That because music that comes out of the midst of social revolution packs so much into every note. This gives it a staying power that music from our more staid times will not have.
  • Noble Dust
    6.3k


    I think our perception of originality in music (or whatever art form) is often just a projection unto the external world of our own experience of being exposed to new music. As we age, new music or art seems less original because it doesn't match our past seminal experiences of newness. We tend to chase that first "hit" of a perception-altering musical or artistic experience in the same way an addict chases that first high. This leads to this sense of disillusionment that characterizes your commentary, I think.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    10.8k
    I think pageantry has always been an important part of musical performance. You'll find that it pervades and persists throughout time, from the liturgical dramas of Gregorian chant, to Opera, and the theatrics of classic rock concerts. The form of pageantry employed is always changing, just like the music itself, that's the result of the desire to be original.
  • Agent Smith
    8.9k
    I'm just curious about a fact that's obvious given but a moment's reflection - why are there no aesthetically-challenged female singers?
  • 180 Proof
    10.9k
    No. The overall decline in the music industry predates digital formats, auto-tune, low bitrate streaming services, ubiquitious high quality ease-of-use recording tech, etc. In (Western) popular music (e.g. rock-n-roll, blues, folk, country, soul/R&B/funk, ska/reggae) the decline was precipitous by the mid-1970-80s. In (Western) classical music & jazz, the decline probably happened decades earlier. Well, so my own vinyl-free CD/DVD library (that c95% consists of pre-1980 recordings) seems to tells me. :smirk:

    Why is this so (if it is)? My guess, for what it's worth, is the hyper-monetized demand for new "novelity" content has over the decades progressively outstripped the demand for new quality content as the accessibility to old quality content has grown along with the on-demand distribution capacity for delivering trendy "novelty" shit has exploded. And "live music" venues, where most people used to learn how to listen and dance, are maybe 5% as numerous as they were in the 1970s as arena concerts and mass festivals became econony-of-scale money-grabs too irresistable for established "stars" and promoters to resist. Blah blah blah ...

    Anyway, I stopped going to "big shows" (except for rare occasions) over two decades ago after being an avid concert-goer for the previous two decades. Decadent commerce kills culture eventually. Nietzsche is right. Albert Murray is right too.
  • Noble Dust
    6.3k
    At the risk of tooting my own horn, I feel that most of y'all are perpetuating and embodying the point I made above:

    I think our perception of originality in music (or whatever art form) is often just a projection unto the external world of our own experience of being exposed to new music. As we age, new music or art seems less original because it doesn't match our past seminal experiences of newness. We tend to chase that first "hit" of a perception-altering musical or artistic experience in the same way an addict chases that first high.Noble Dust

    The mistake made is that one's own perception of a sort of musical "pantheon" is just exactly that; one's own perception. The fallacy is that one's own perception of some pantheon represents some sort of objective reality, which it does not.
  • Tom Storm
    5.8k
    That sounds right. What's funny to me at the moment is we have a some younger people at work - the 28 year-olds are laughing at the 22 year-old's musical taste, muttering about how music isn't what it used to be. I didn't know such a slender interval of time could provide such a drastic demarcation. To me it all sounds shit. It's also interesting to me that most people's taste in music, film, clothing seems to ossify at a particular point in time. And everyone always says they are open to and appreciate the new stuff...
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