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The Devolution of Music and the Degeneration of Popular Culture

Much of the music being produced and popularized in the mainstream media today can at best be seen as mediocre from the perspective of an educated music lover. However, because some music is enjoyed by some and not by others and vice versa, it can be difficult to explain why most music today is mediocre in any sort of objective fashion. Likewise, to say that most music being produced today is wonderful is a claim which can be equally difficult to represent objectively.

Mainstream music is a reflection of social and cultural values being celebrated on a mass scale. These values are abstract things which might be made more tangible and accessible to the mind by examining what has become of mainstream music. This can be done by making a comparison between music in the mainstream today and music which might be forthcoming should there be a renewed interest in the notion that music is in fact an art which deserves to be appreciated for when it exhibits both genuine creativity and unmistakable originality.

Though it is now the year two-thousand and seven (the year in which this was written) there is still a feeling of being stuck in the last decade before the new millennium; which is evidenced by the fact that there are popular television programs being watched by millions which are solely based on rehashing and re-popularizing old mainstream music of the last couple of decades. Though such programs can be enjoyable in their own right, they represent a lack of originality taking place today. If there were something going on that was new and exciting in music, there would be more of a need to have programs featuring the new stuff rather than having to go back and rehash on old things. There is also a considerable amount of people who have been creating their identity around retro movements. That is to say, they have come to dress in ways established by popular culture of previous decades instead of dressing and presenting themselves in ways which are fresh and new. Inherently, there is nothing wrong with dressing in old fashions, but it is a type of evidence signifying a lack of creativity on the part of society.

Television programs such as American Idol are increasingly popular nowadays and while perhaps entertaining, the existence of such shows point to the fact that society values conformity more than genuine originality. Specifically, the show American Idol has contestants compete on the basis of their vocal ability
and has viewers vote for their favorite singer via telephone-voting. When someone is crowned the winner of the show, a major music industry corporation takes the winner and has them record music which can then be sold to the fans of the show. It is a cookie cutter way of making an artist and selling that artist to the public. The show is the result of calculating capitalism and has very little to do with celebrating the talent of the artist in a way that praises them for originality. On the contrary, it celebrates an artist for being marketable across the widest spectrum of listeners, which is an easy example of conformity for the sake of making money. Programs like this seem to do very little if anything to contribute to the overall evolution of music and culture; instead they simply represent ways for corporations to cash in on the current paradigm. That being said, a program like American Idol cannot be all bad and there are probably some goods which come out of it.

Radio and television are still the most relied upon mediums for people to obtain ideas about what is going on in the world, and they represent outlets which are capable of expressing the values of the overall culture. However, these mediums are soon becoming obsolete with the usage of the internet and new digital technologies and platforms are becoming increasingly popular ways for society to gain new perspectives on culture. The twenty first century has yet to fully shift into the complete usage of these new technologies, but it is well on its way. When it finally does cross over completely, the rules and values which were celebrated during the twentieth century will no longer be as influential as they once were. Where society and culture has been and where it is going is a question which should be on everyone’s mind. Moreover, where we can take it should be plaguing our imaginations.

(To read this study in its entirety please visit this website: www.centrinity.org

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There is some great music out there it is just coming from

other countries that are less managed and more free than we are...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMEE9AW94Hs&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EyI4p0yjDQ

"All great truths begin as blasphemies."

"Human beings with love and compassion are some of the most beautiful creatures in the universe... Those without are a plague on us all."

Bruce comes up with a new song

every once in awhile that makes NJ proud.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRUEKJIcvbo&feature=related

Wow!

Just today I was listening to Beethoven's 7th and 9th, while I was studying, and I just realized that I'd forgotten how much I loved Classical music! Lately, I've been focused on folk music, mainly because of the anti-war messages (Peter, Paul, and Mary, Donovan, Buffy Sainte-Marie). Anyway, I also felt a little pessimistic about the direction of music with today's youth. (I can't even fathom how somebody can compose an hour long piece for a 32+ piece band. Unbelievable.)

There still good music out there though. One of my good friend's band got voted the best in the Twin Cities by the local newspaper. (which I think is pretty good considering everybody and their mother has a band in Minneapolis... :P) They have a very interesting sound.

http://www.myspace.com/lucymichell

Anyway, he's a Ron Paul supporter, and he let me stay at his place when I was visiting the Twin Cities for the Rally for the Republic, so there's my shameless plug of the day! :)

I feel that there is a

I feel that there is a reason why people have been led down the path of listening to the mindless music of "Pop/hip-hop/R&B" music. To me that type of music is boring and repetitive. Personally I don't really listen to the singing for lyrics, I listen to vocals as an instrument in a larger piece. If the drums or guitar are bad I will hate the song, regardless of the message in the song.

Personall I love Classical music because those composers understood that you need variety of scales within the same song to wow people. For the most part the "current" music I listen to is Metal and heavy rock. I especially like Scandinavian Blackmetal because they have a nack for putting some real cool, classical sounding pieces into their songs and go through all different tempos and riffs throughout the song. Keeps your mind following where they are taking you rather than be stuck in mud hearing the same 2 beats over and over and over again.

You just discredited your post here...

"I especially like Scandinavian Blackmetal because they have a nack for putting some real cool, classical sounding pieces into their songs and go through all different tempos and riffs throughout the song. Keeps your mind following where they are taking you rather than be stuck in mud hearing the same 2 beats over and over and over again."

I knew you were talking outta your a$$...

I was thinking about this

I have never owned a radio or TV so I'm not real aware what is being played unless I'm in a public space. It seems to me that when rap went main stream, rock stopped developing, new artists were grounded (or died in ODs, for example, RIP kurt Cobain, but rock artists...Zappa, Garcia, even Elvis all died about 50 years of age... and now I hear the Beatles, and I feel like there is no more "new music", but I am also hearing more classical music... and I had a thought about how it appears we are moving into that direction, as I told my friend the other day, I bet kids are going to start picking up instruments again and playing classical music instead of rock and rap... MSM is going to bury that and begin feeding us more and more orgastra, as the NWO searches for it's "universal" sound from the present generation (music business survives off the ignorance and talent of youth... and I don't see that changing. I also have thoughts about how HAARP and ELF have had an influence in music, talk about big bass sound.... lol

tl;dr

tl;dr

"People should not be afraid of their governments; governments should be afraid of their people." - V for Vendetta

Peak Rock

I estimate that rock peaked out around 1970 (midpoint of Vietnam War)

Swing music peaked around 1943 (midpoint of WWII).

Given that I'm hardly a fan of the Hip Hop/Rap genre, I hesitate to comment on the probable relationship between "peak rap" and the various (US driven) middle eastern wars, so I'll just leave you with my interpretation of Sir Mixalot's Baby Got Back.

1970? Not a chance! What

1970? Not a chance! What about punk? No, peak rock was definitely early '90s when rock musicians could publicly admit they were influenced by Frank Sinatra, Bob Marley, The Romones, Billie Holiday, Led Zeppelin, Public Enemy and Beethoven all in the same breath.

Hiphop peaked with the talentless Sean Combs for me....

good points on form

But again as I suggest more in my post below... I'm not so much talking about the form of the music - I'm talking more about the meaning behind the rock, the consciousness of rebellion - which peaked musically during the counterculture revolution - late 60's-early 70's. Everything else since - however more skillfully played, louder, darker, more distorted, artistic, nihilistic, whatever - has failed to outdo its predessors in terms of bringing substantial meaning to rock.

Punk is rebellious to be sure, but it's just a variation on a theme already established. Same could be said of metal, new wave, grunge, etc.

I hear you but at the very

I hear you but at the very least then it was the early eighties with bands like Minor Threat, Bad Brains and Black Flag. These guys pushed rock to its peak and then over where it came crashing down on sharp jagged rocks (and I mean this in a good way)!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWWI2rGdda4

...

...

Your estimate

is wrong about rock. Kinda nutty, actually.

Nothing wrong with being nutty

or corny.

But consider this. To be sure there have been quite a few incredible rockers since 1970. And there were those who jump started rock in the 50's. But why rock? What's its purpose?

Swing music, particularly in its Big Band form, created a venue for all generations to come together in a time of war. Rock'n'roll was significant in its breaking music's cultural monolith to generationally polarize the population. Rock meant rebellion, but that rebellion was largely without a meaningful cause until the police lines of the 60's started to crash the lovefest. The music between 1968 and 1972 brought a new consciousness to rock. It brought meaning to rock.

Subsequently, why rock out? Just to rock out? For rock's sake? Just to be more rebellious? Just to be louder or more accomplished with one's arpeggios? Or to be more nihilistic or artistic? Even the real heavy stuff which rebels against religious traditions is just an echo of the rebellion of consciousness that climaxed before. Rock peaked in terms of meaning in that 5 years or so around 1970.

peak rap might be 2001

peak rap might be 2001

Peak Hip Hop vs Pop Hop

First there was Rap / Hip Hop 1976 - 1983

Then Hip Hop / Gangster Rap Era 1984 - 1993ish

Then Pop Hop / Underground (conscious rap built off of "pure" hip hop evolution) / Gangster Rap War 1993 - 1997ish

Pop Hop absorbs most Underground and all Gangster Rap -- Rise of the Subsidized Black "Media Moguls" 1996-1997 to 2001

Rap died in '83, but I'm old school -- hahahaha

Underground gets almost no radio play.

Radio is a subsidized industry (heavily regulated)

Gov't makes billions off of Porn - Snuff - Gangster Rap - Gay Hollywood

Get Gov't Out

#1 Vote-out-Incumbent (the "senior political position" is the systemic evil)
#2 Consumer Union (vote-out-the-corporatists)
#3 Form Master Mind like Entrepreneurial Societies so we can take over for gov't -- just slide in by providing viral like methods of developing multiple income streams and we can just walk-out on gov't jobs!!!

the more I consider it

the more it seems to me that the development of Rap music (hip hop, etc.) doesn't so much dovetail with wars in the Middle East - but rather more on the domestic homefront, but again... I have for the most part steered clear of such music and such cultural contexts.

Now country music is a different matter (I generally avoid the music - but harder to avoid the context) - the new country that came out in the 90's seems to be patriotic to a fault - witness what happened to the Dixie Chicks when their lead singer criticized Bush. It will be interesting to see how country evolves during Obama's presidency.

well

Country music is interesting in that it is one of the few musical forms that "The Industry" has kept almost complete control over, but the internet has finally started to stretch the margins on country and I think you will see it diversify within the next few years.

you got it right.

you got it right.

sounds about right

Makes one wonder what the next phase of dominant music might be...

perhaps some east asian trend?

There are some significant

There are some significant movements going on in dance music right now.

LOL

but no.

Like Jive_Dadson said,

Like Jive_Dadson said, survivor bias has a lot to do with it. It’s not like Bach was the only guy scribbling notes on paper back in his day. Or Elvis was the only one singing in the 50’s.

You also have to differentiate between the best songs / albums / works of an era, and the ‘average.’ While the best may well be what the era is remembered for in hindsight; for a regular Joe, it’s the average quality of music he is exposed to that is important. And this has likely gone down, with increased ease of recording and distribution.

Back in Beethoven’s day, before anyone heard your symphony, you’d at least have to be good enough to convince some orchestra, somewhere, to bother rehearsing and performing it. This likely filtered out most less than at least decent composers right off the bat. Same thing for musicians wanting to play in the orchestras to begin with.

Even in the 60’s, to record an album and expose the general public to it, you would most likely need to convince some label you had at least some potential. And it more often than not had to be a label that had some history of differentiating good from bad, as they otherwise would no longer be in business. And then, by the time your record reached the masses, it would have been touched up by at least somewhat proven engineers. So even with all the junk from back then that is now forgotten, at least there were some minimum standards.

Today, releasing an album is essentially free. Combine this with a generation raised with rock star envy, and to believe they are all creative geniuses with something to express, and you’re bound to see a drop in the _Average_ quality of music created.

At the same time, you’d think the absolute best of an era would improve, with better access to the tools of the trade by more people. In Beethoven’s age, there may well have been all kinds of talented composers who never had the opportunity to put notes on paper. Now, at least in the West, this is much less likely.

If I’m right, this may go some ways towards explaining why those who are really ‘into’ music, and put serious effort into finding the best of it, don’t seem to share the dystopian views of more mainstream listeners. As they’re willing to wade through the junk to find the pearls, they find plenty of good music to listen to. While those less tuned in, relying more on music coming to them, are mainly exposed to the enormous wall of mediocrity that in earlier eras would have been filtered out by gatekeepers further upstream.

Survivor bias

Music has been "devolving" forever.

In the stock market, they call it "survivor bias." Historical returns look better than they actually were, because all the defunct businesses are forgotten. The same is true of music. There has always been lousy music. I was a DJ in the late 60's/early 70's, and believe me, some of it really stank. But who listens to it anymore? It is mostly forgotten. There has been drek in every decade since the phonograph was invented, and one must presume before that too.

Ĵīɣȩ Ɖåđşŏń

"Fully half the quotations found on the internet are either mis-attributed, or outright fabrications." - Abraham Lincoln

yup

Fortune Favors the Bold

Fortune Favors the Bold

Alan Watt knows

Has precisely and frequently addressed the creation "weaponization" of culture by the predetermined selection of the arts to effect our thoughtlives. He has named the names of the puppetmasters and their gigantic sources of funding via the foundations. He cites the sources and gives examples; thus as to be expected we are becoming the desired behavioral pawns (useless eaters) that the arts & technology designed us to become. In addition to providing Americans with their cowboy " western" roots, patriotism, Elvis idolatry, causing our affections right down to the cars/technology we buy - they cause us to accept and take part in revolutions, strikes, and to reject nonconformists ..etc. Alan does & cites the research, discusses Hollywood, Voltaire, Mozart, Orwell, Brezinski, Rhodes, Bertrand Russell, Kissinger, Darwin, CG Darwin, Neitzchie, CFR, RIIA, Carroll Quigley, Rockefeller, Anglo/American empirism, population managment strategies. Music is predetermined by the ruling class for us.

4RonP

The Great Masters.....

.....of music such as Beethoven, Bach, Wagner, Mozart (his birthday was yesterday) Handel, Chopin......these men wrote some really great music which shall indeed endure throughout the ages and their name shall be praised. These great composers didn't rely upon fireworks, lasers, digital equipment, synthesizers and signal processing and all of the other fake means these phony musicians of today use. Their work was completely analog. Unlike the junk written these days. Heck, if the military uses it for their torture treatment.....it must be REALLY bad.

Guess I should scratch giving you...

that Tool CD for your birthday...and this is a band that denies big corporate media whenever it can. ie..no iTunes..

Dude..There are composers out there in every genre...If your thing is classical..look around...There are up and coming kids everyday who have tons of promise..If your thing rap or rock...They're out there, too. Nothing has changed...Music appreciation goes further than turning on a radio..It takes communication and an open ear...The more you expose yourself to, the more you see that corporate media can't stop art...

The best they can hope to do is take control of certain artists...But the good bands are wising up to this..You'll see..give it time..Once more and more artists take command of their music, there will be a shift back to the fundementals of good music as opposed to good marketing.

______________________

There are plenty of musical

There are plenty of musical geniuses today that use digital equipment.

Such as?

Who? They're all JUNK. Rap is really just spastic illiterate rhyme. Thank God it's dead. As for the 20 year old brats that write and perform most of the trash today.....their stuff is suitable only for psycho's. Remember that Ami (or whatever her name is) that pranced around the Rally? Geez, pathetic.