Is Modern Music Boring?

Here, via Kevin Drum, is statistical evidence that modern pop music is boring or at least more homogeneous than in the past (yes, Tyler already linked to Kevin’s post but I wanted to link to the underlying dataset (see below)).

We find three important trends in the evolution of musical discourse: the restriction of pitch sequences (with metrics showing less variety in pitch progressions), the homogenization of the timbral palette (with frequent timbres becoming more frequent), and growing average loudness levels.

The picture at right shows the timbral variety:

Smaller values of β indicate less timbral variety: frequent codewords become more frequent, and infrequent ones become even less frequent. This evidences a growing homogenization of the global timbral palette. It also points towards a progressive tendency to follow more fashionable, mainstream sonorities.

The underlying data is from the Million Song Dataset which looks pretty cool and is open.


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