Wednesday, January 12, 2011

...Music is genetic...

This is probably going to be another one of those deeper posts, so if you don't like that you can quit here.

Still with me? Good. I wanna show you something really cool. Check this out. For extra credit, follow along, you might be surprised with the results :)

Did you watch it? Was your mind blown?

Hilarious musical results aside, what is incredible is that this works EVERYWHERE across ALL kinds of cultures. And while it points to the human brain's ability to notice trends and patterns in notes of music, I think it points to something far deeper and more spiritual (never thought you'd see that word on THIS blog did you?). In my opinion, it shows that music, and the pleasure we derive from it is not only universal, it is genetic. We are almost hard-wired to enjoy music. And while music can take an infinite number of forms, why then has popular music essentially painted itself into a corner?

I have been listening to the radio more and more nowadays (thanks to my iPod cable fraying) and I can't help but notice that almost all popular music is incredibly same-y. I'm not saying I don't enjoy it, but one simply cannot sit and listen to it seriously. There was a time when lyrics meant something deep. Where the artist was able to convey emotion through their words. And before that came a time when the artist did not even NEED words to convey their feelings. When did music become so shallow, so pointless?

Now I'm not saying all music is bad nowadays. There are some songs out there that are quite meaningful still, but pop music as a whole lacks all the depth of it's rock, jazz and even classical predecessors. That's right classical. It boggles my mind that there are so many people out there who either do not care for, or actually dislike classical music. Most people say "Oh it's not really my thing" or "It's too boring" or "Wah that person is singing in another language wahhhhhh". Well looking at it this way, if Rock was the birth of Pop, and Blues was the birth of Rock, and Jazz was the birth of Blues etc etc etc, we all end up converging on some dude in a powdered wig. And while it is pretentious to say that all music is derived from Classical music (because if you really want to argue semantics, all music is derived from the first cave man who banged a stick on a rock in such a way that he could bob his/her head to), but classical certainly laid the framework for the vast majority of music to come.

Classical songs spanned the entire gamut of possible key signatures while pop music generally stays within the very narrow realm of C Major. Classical music could make a person laugh or cry without the use of words, Pop music uses the same words over and over again. Classical music, especially opera, told incredible stories from a french prisoner in the Bastille to a magical flute that transported a girl to the kingdom of the ice queen, pop music primarily covers the broad subject matters of drinking, partying, getting shitfaced (or slizzard if you will), dancing, spending money and occasionally whipping one's hair back and forth. How is it possible that a musical form that is hundreds of years old STILL does it better than those of today?

Maybe it's just me, maybe humans as a whole have realized that, after millennia of experimentation and trial and error, we have learned that there are certain very specific things that we like to hear. But no, I like to think that the music that defines this newest generation is a sad state of affairs. Music is becoming ever more accessible to new listeners with the advent of digital distribution and streaming files, and yet the most popular content we can feed into their ears is stuff like "Take it off" and "Bottoms up". (I mean the guy rhymes "up" with "up" THREE FUCKING TIMES. Do you think your FIRST GRADE TEACHER would have STOOD for that SHIT if he or she asked you to write a poem? FUCK NO.)

Let me get one thing clear though, I am not a hipster by any means and I'm CERTAINLY not telling you what to listen to or enjoy listening to. I enjoy pop music whenever I go to a party or a club, but I simply cannot imagine anyone sitting and listening to it thinking it is anything more than just simple dance beats and meaningless "lets have fun" lyrics. Anybody who tries to find any deeper meaning in these lyrics might as well spend their time trying to find the proverbial core of an onion.

...And that's what I learned today.

PS If you are wondering what brought this post on (other than that AWFUL Tre, here's the link to the TED talk. It's a long one, but trust me, it's worth it.


  1. Amazing. I always enjoy your posts, but this one is particularly awesome.

  2. I've definitely had this conversation with people and NO ONE UNDERSTANDS. Thank you, Chi, thank you.

    -Memememe mweep.