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ANUS validated: pop music similar, image-based

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Here we unveil a number of patterns and metrics characterizing the generic usage of primary musical facets such as pitch, timbre, and loudness in contemporary western popular music. Many of these patterns and metrics have been consistently stable for a period of more than fifty years. However, we prove important changes or trends related to the restriction of pitch transitions, the homogenization of the timbral palette, and the growing loudness levels. This suggests that our perception of the new would be rooted on these changing characteristics. Hence, an old tune could perfectly sound novel and fashionable, provided that it consisted of common harmonic progressions, changed the instrumentation, and increased the average loudness.

http://www.nature.com/srep/2012/120726/srep00521/full/srep00521.html

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To critics, MTV -- which arrived in the 1980s -- heightened the value of looks and slickness over "authenticity," with the image becoming more important than the music. And nowadays, in our 24/7 world of rapidly posted YouTube videos, instant MP3 releases, reality shows, lurking paparazzi and meat dress one-upmanship, it's easier than ever for spectacle to overwhelm singing.

"I think a lot of this stuff is specific to particular genres and subgenres of music, and the old distinction between rock and pop, where the people on the pop side are not expected to be authentic in the same way as the people on the rock side," he says.

...

Doucette says that commercialization comes with the territory.

"A band is a brand. It sells music, it sells image, a lot of things. This is our product, this is what we do. The fact it has artistic integrity is what separates it," he says. "The difference is where the emphasis is."

http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/27/showbiz/art-pop-music-image/index.html?hpt=hp_c3

Bonus:

http://blog.adw.org/2012/06/on-the-coarseness-of-our-culture-and-what-we-have-lost-as-illustrated-in-a-commerical/