Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Looking for a revolution

The scientific inquiry into music revolutions is interesting:

The evolution of western pop music, spanning from 1960 to 2010, has been analysed by scientists.

A team from Queen Mary University of London and Imperial College London looked at more than 17,000 songs from the US Billboard Hot 100.

They found three music revolutions - in 1964, 1983 and 1991 - and traced the loss of blues chords from the charts, as well as the birth of disco.
But it's fundamentally flawed, isn't it? If you want to know what's happening in music, the very worst place to look would be the American charts. It'd be like a seismologist restricting themselves to measuring only the smallest of aftershocks.

Just as a for instance, that methodology means that punk is more or less ignored and the revolutions spotted are timed about two years too late.

Still, as a guide to what sorts of music American radio was prepared to play, it's a useful exercise.

1 comment:

Robin Carmody said...

Also a whiff of "Greeks claiming Roman innovations as their own" here, a certain gloating that the 1964 & 1983 changes (which both *did* fundamentally revolutionise the Hot 100, but in the latter case at least from an artificial trough with its roots in racism and homophobia) had their roots in Britain ...

There's always a certain sadness for me in things like this because I think a lot of the stuff that crossed over to the UK charts while Dan Fogelberg & Air Supply ruled whitebread, overground America *should* have been the foundation for a more profound change, but ended up (partially because of the Falklands affair) as a footnote largely ignored by non-specialist (which this obviously is by definition) surveys ...

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