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Why are only a few chords used in hit songs in recent times?
Old 20th December 2015
  #241
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hot Vibrato View Post

Also, the music in cartoons, TV, and movies directed towards children used to be much less condescending. They're being treated like idiots, and they don't even know or care. Children of today (at least here in the US) reach adulthood practically without ever hearing anything of any actual musical substance.
Just to give a perspective from outside of the US, here in Japan music education is very good. Every junior high has a brass band club and the kids are trained to perform at a high level. Learning an instrument at an early age is something many parents want their children to have the opportunity to do. And this shows in the degree of sophistication of popular music here. This is probably the reason why pop music from the Western world has seen a great decline in popularity in Japan over the last 20 years. Even the top boy bands like Arashi use a lot of sophisticated arrangements in their music, especially in the deep album cuts. Real musicians are still prized over DAW based compositions so top groups bring a constant supply of work for session musicians here too.
Old 20th December 2015
  #242
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pichi View Post
Just to give a perspective from outside of the US, here in Japan music education is very good. Every junior high has a brass band club and the kids are trained to perform at a high level. Learning an instrument at an early age is something many parents want their children to have the opportunity to do. And this shows in the degree of sophistication of popular music here. This is probably the reason why pop music from the Western world has seen a great decline in popularity in Japan over the last 20 years. Even the top boy bands like Arashi use a lot of sophisticated arrangements in their music, especially in the deep album cuts. Real musicians are still prized over DAW based compositions so top groups bring a constant supply of work for session musicians here too.
Thank you for your perspective.

Our country used to strive for excellence. We once held higher standards in all aspects of life, and there was a time when the U.S. was admired by the entire world. I don't know what happened here, but somehow the importance of the arts and culture has been diminished greatly, and intelligence and sophistication became things to be ridiculed. Now morons are famous, and thug culture is glorified. If people here cared half as much about music and the arts as they do about sports, it would be a much different place.

It's ironic that many of the top session musicians and audio engineers in this country work very hard to become professionals in their field, and then in order to make a living, they must waste their talents creating garbage to be consumed by the masses.
Old 20th December 2015
  #243
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hot Vibrato View Post
Thank you for your perspective.

Our country used to strive for excellence. We once held higher standards in all aspects of life, and there was a time when the U.S. was admired by the entire world. I don't know what happened here, but somehow the importance of the arts and culture has been diminished greatly, and intelligence and sophistication became things to be ridiculed.
When was this Shangri-La period in American history you speak of?
Old 20th December 2015
  #244
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Herr Weiss View Post
When was this Shangri-La period in American history you speak of?
Perhaps I'm romanticizing the past, but if I'm not mistaken, the U.S. once set the standards for the world in technology, industry, and manufacturing, and American music and art was admired and emulated all over the world. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's what they told me in school anyways.
Old 20th December 2015
  #245
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Herr Weiss View Post
Nice find!!

It sounds nothing like what I hear from the Ukrainians in my church.
Could it be that they speak Russian instead of Ukrainian??

Could it be that they are singing in Ruthenian; the original language of yore.

Questions?
They are singing in Georgian.

See The Trio Mandili
Old 20th December 2015
  #246
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dc_r View Post
They are singing in Georgian.

See The Trio Mandili

Aha, that explains it all!

Thank you dc_r!
Old 23rd December 2015
  #247
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The 2015 hits it might very well be the case of simple chord progressions of 3-4 chords over and over, like for instance Katy Perry - Wide Awake. I think the OP was meaning that the subtle variance of maybe just switching the chords in question in another order, or add another chord-progression for a pre-chorus and/or chorus was the case, and not necessarily mean odd chords or weird tempo as the discussion here and there got into (I've scanned through the thread).

There's one factor which seems to be forgotten a bit while speaking about hits; there's a difference between hits which last for decades and hits that last maybe just a few weeks and then are being forgotten more or less. While the "long-termed" hits - at least in almost in any case I'm aware of - seems to have the variance of another chord-progression for at least one song-part, the "short-termed" hits perhaps have the feature of what the topic is describing but also could have the before-mentioned feature.

As for the long-termed hits there are of course exceptions proving the rule, like U2 - With Or Without You. Then we have Alphaville - Forever Young, but imho it doesn't count since it's a long progression of 8 chords or more, which will automatically variate the structure (as it would have if the chord-sequence was different for different song-parts). In the cases the rule is broken for these category of hits, there are of course more emphasizing on other things like melody-variations, dynamics and different arrangements etc.

Personally I find it a bit more interesting if there's this kind of subtle variance in the chord-structure for at least one part of the song. Of some reason it make the song less tiresome upon repeated playback to me. That said, I'm not yet very tired of With Or Without You and Forever Young (well, maybe a bit but they are classics). Regarding Wide Awake I have to come back and provide my opinion in 20-30 years as it's to early to know lol (not sure it holds up for a long-termed hit/will be as well-known in the future as the others though).

Regarding the question of the topic I'm not sure it has to do with songwriters today lacking musical schooling more than before, but it might be a cause. I'm not sure it requires schooling to make more than one progression though, but might help of course. At least some knowledge of the Circle of Fifths certainly helps (yes it can be used cleverly in a certain way regarding stuff like these). The phenomenon might connect to the "modern society of consuming" and the less need of long-termed hits as more songs are produced today. It's still money and connections which determines what gets in the spotlight to begin with (more now than before imho), so I'm not sure it has to do what the general public wants.

So, another explanation would be that the guys on the big chairs (while listening to demos) may go for what they found catchy at first glance, and short-termed hits or songs with few chord progressions may be more often considered than before because they believe it will be "quick money". And while at that.. It's worth pointing out is that there are certain songs that grows on you, they may not blow you away on the first listening or you maybe didn't like them at all. Alternatively they sound good and will make you curious so you have to listen again to "fully comprehend". Then, later, in a few years or maybe even after a longer period of time - Now you like them.. Maybe even find them great. With other words, these kind of song are not as much considered although I believe these often are the more "complex" songs that could be the kind of long-termed hits.

Just some spontaneous analyzing.
Old 8th October 2019
  #248
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For you guys to know how advanced Japan is, here's their cartoon music which is academically speaking as good as classical pieces in modulations and advanced progressions, with jazzy chords, and great mixing, and great production.



Old 10th October 2019
  #249
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s wave's Avatar
Tennessee Whiskey - D G & A https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab..._chords_501578

FGC for Ravels Bolero... many pieces of art are made with 3 components... easier to do...
Old 10th October 2019
  #250
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Quote:
Originally Posted by konokoknk View Post
For you guys to know how advanced Japan is, here's their cartoon music which is academically speaking as good as classical pieces in modulations and advanced progressions, with jazzy chords, and great mixing, and great production.



Solid case for fewer chords
Old 11th October 2019
  #251
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Agreed Newguy... but is it OK to pick up girls in dungeons? ~ i am guessing its OK - they are fairly good pieces of work... I know my work is good - because one time - when I was young - and feeling very down on the job... My boss picked up my spirits by saying: "You're a REAL piece of work." - some things you never forget....
Old 11th October 2019
  #252
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Thumbs up

Quote:
Originally Posted by s wave View Post
Agreed Newguy... but is it OK to pick up girls in dungeons? ~ i am guessing its OK - they are fairly good pieces of work... I know my work is good - because one time - when I was young - and feeling very down on the job... My boss picked up my spirits by saying: "You're a REAL piece of work." - some things you never forget....
Haha. They’re very well done songs, I just saw a set to a good spike, couldn’t resist.
Old 3 days ago
  #253
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I find the vast majority of pop and country tunes very dull melodically these days. Everything seems to be formulaic arrangement wise which adds to the monotony.

I rely on my music collection to keep the monotony at bay and that means that I go back and listen to the music from 1964 through to about 1973 for the most part. There is some music that has come out since that I really enjoy but the selections are very limited.
Old 3 days ago
  #254
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s wave's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by PdotDdot View Post
I find the vast majority of pop and country tunes very dull melodically these days. Everything seems to be formulaic arrangement wise which adds to the monotony.

I rely on my music collection to keep the monotony at bay and that means that I go back and listen to the music from 1964 through to about 1973 for the most part. There is some music that has come out since that I really enjoy but the selections are very limited.
Many of the small detailed interesting sounds are missing from mainstream today... fills etc.
Old 2 days ago
  #255
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'Why are only a few chords used in hit songs in recent times?'

Because like most forms of independent expression, the music industry represented a threat to a small oligarchy seeking a political take-over and was systematically dumbed down over a period of years and used as a propaganda tool to remove hope, unity and independent thought.
Old 2 days ago
  #256
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IM WHO YOU THINK's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by troiontroi View Post
It seems to me that in the last few years, most hit songs in UK/US charts use a few chords only.

For example, Adele's Hello is written with these chords: Em, G, D, C. Another chord, Bm is used only once.

No matter what we think of hit songwriters, I'm sure they are competent enough to use more chords in their songs - if they want.

So the question is why do many hit songs use only a few chords?

Thank you.
Music was taken from schools, so fewer people with the desire to be competent musicians had access. This will probably reverse in the future since technology is making info more accessible to anyone with a desire to learn. It's not the ideal path, but it's a viable path.

The main issue will be a dumbed down audience.
Old 2 days ago
  #257
Quote:
Originally Posted by PdotDdot View Post
I find the vast majority of pop and country tunes very dull melodically these days. Everything seems to be formulaic arrangement wise which adds to the monotony.

I rely on my music collection to keep the monotony at bay and that means that I go back and listen to the music from 1964 through to about 1973 for the most part. There is some music that has come out since that I really enjoy but the selections are very limited.
In the early part of this century, I was afraid what I had been listening to had become quite narrow... in the middle of the 00's, I discovered subscription streaming. I'd been dreaming of direct access to listeners for artists since the mid 80s and talk about 'electronic sales' through cable systems.

I'd listened to the (mostly boring, predictable) music channels on my cable system -- and it was clear to me that making access on demand would be crucial.

Like many musicians, I was leery of possible, likely exploitation -- that was based on what I'd seen during my years in and around the conventional record industry, where exploitation was the rule, not the exception.

But by the second half of the first decade, it seemed clear to me that paid streaming would be, should be the future, at least if we were ever to disintermediate all the glad-handing, under the table rip off artists who dominated the old line label biz.

And I'm glad I went that route, as it totally reinvigorated my music listening and -- especially -- my music outreach. Not only was I (predictably) going back and listening to old faves [and a LOT of them in the fecund 60s, to be sure!] I hadn't pulled out of the vinyl stacks in years, I was using discovery tools to move laterally through styles and 'vertically' through time, looking for both old music I'd never or seldom heard, as well as new music in the genres and sub-genres I was interested in -- my genre tastes are probably bewilderingly broad, though I nonetheless think the majority of the music out there is, nonetheless, boring; but the 5 or 10% that ISN'T boring to me is what I'm all about. I love discovering music I haven't heard before. But, for sure, most of it is boring and predictable.

As it ever was.
Old 2 days ago
  #258
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I agree blue1 (my tastes are similar but are even more narrow) I liked less than 1% of the songs of the old. And much less today. If I randomly listen to songs I might listen to a few seconds of maybe up to 5% but - way less than 1 in a 100 would I go back to or make a mental note of. Songs that I did not like were more listenable back a ways. Today I do not see the great polished song writers (as a whole) for obvious reasons. What I do like is the risk taking today. And the reason for this is obvious too - if you have no reputation and nothing to lose why not and go for it. This is what I love of the new industry. Of course it will rapidly narrow to the companies that own the companies that drive the search engines. Ebb and flow.. Revenue streams are coveted and hoarded by big biz. Overseas engines and streaming are a bright spot right now,
Old 2 days ago
  #259
I will note that part of my look forward/look back/look around strategy has brought me to confront my much earlier, even more cynical self.

I had a real problem with pop music. I mean, if it was popular, that seemed like two strikes against it. It wasn't a deal-killer, I liked the '60s Rolling Stones, loved Jimi; but, you know, if someone like the Supremes or the Grassroots had a track I liked, I considered it an anomaly, an exception. (Recently I listened to a pick of selections from a Grassroots hits package and realized there were a lot of anomalies in there. They could really write a hook!)
Old 2 days ago
  #260
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I was lucky to just like what I liked... a la Satchmo. It's good if you like it like type deal... I learned like Will Rogers... Everybody (and every song) has something to teach me. I think many walls have crumbled.... It's a great era for that. Billy Ray and Lil NAS X RLOL! Many people pissed on REO now they are touring with those the 'in pop' culture had a riff with.
Old 1 day ago
  #261
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I'm always curious to read threads like this. There have been lots of interesting perspectives and points since it was started several years ago. And in any discussion of music being sophisticated while still having popular appeal, I invariably think of this extremely cool video of Paul Simon. No question that this guy has a serious chord vocabulary, and he has for a very long time. He's also up there with Stevie Wonder as my favorite American songwriter.

Old 1 day ago
  #262
Quote:
Originally Posted by Progger View Post
I'm always curious to read threads like this. There have been lots of interesting perspectives and points since it was started several years ago. And in any discussion of music being sophisticated while still having popular appeal, I invariably think of this extremely cool video of Paul Simon. No question that this guy has a serious chord vocabulary, and he has for a very long time. He's also up there with Stevie Wonder as my favorite American songwriter.

Back when people had time to actually talk on talk shows, they weren't so busy marketing their latest movies, books, boudoir porn...
Old 1 day ago
  #263
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s wave's Avatar
3 chords on a guitar can be 18 notes... that is a LOT of notes... to use in one song... You can come up with many complex songs with that - in fact if they are pedal toned a bit the permutations and sounds really expand.
Old 1 day ago
  #264
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mbvoxx's Avatar
3 chords and the truth can cover a lot of song territory....add a 4th chord, a minor, and that territory becomes a universe.
Old 1 day ago
  #265
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I'm admittedly not in either camp... but this is cool...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQ81Sz38Acw

I was reading through this thread - I'm down in both camps - I love both super simple pop and even unabashed fan of Soundcloud rap/laptop rock, I also think there's "something hard about easy"... but I dig the complex and tricky stuff, sure... I've even written some "strange" bass lines that had pop sensibilities, and when I was in an active band, people I ran into had had on their iPod bc it was kinda infectious (well... that only happened once, but still...).

Anyways, that vid points out some cooler successful pop songs that had some pretty major u-turns theory and chord structure-wise, but still worked out and were "pop" with total pop sensibilities in tact.
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