The Coda of Modern Music

Written for Higher English in 2012

If you look in the ‘music’ section of the iTunes store, you will find a page plagued with greedy, power-hungry and probably overweight businessmen - all cosy behind their respective puppets of course. These businessmen want your money, and they want it fast. They don’t care if they’re polluting the musical world with mountains of rubbish made from 4 out of 88 keys on a piano, nor if their selfishness brings the IQ of the average human down low enough for us to propose the Planck Intelligence Quotient.

According to the ‘world’s most trusted dictionaries’, music is defined as “Vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) combined in such a way as to produce beauty of form, harmony and expression of emotion.[Not random pages of the dictionary mashed together with an idiot behind the mixer poking every button, thank god.]” However, modern day ‘music’, according to the main audience of musically deaf businessmen, is completely contrary to the Oxford definition.

Firstly, let’s talk about the ‘beauty of form’ part. By my understanding, it is referring to the form of the melody, the tone of each note, the intervals between them and the beginning and ending of each phrase. Modern ‘music’, however, has a standard deviation of approximately three notes. In other words, playing a pop song on a piano will only utilize around six notes. To create a ‘beauty of form’ with six notes is like fairy painting with a brick of charcoal.

Next, the ‘harmony’. There’s really nothing to talk about here: think about it. There are six random notes repeating over and over, and 4 basic chords following the tradition of the many lazy idiots before them. This is very effectively illustrated by Axis of Awesome’s parody of 37 different pop songs with only the four chords as accompaniment, and just as they stated, “that’s all it takes to be a star.”

Last but not least, the ‘expression of emotion’. If there are any emotions in modern music, it would be fake-but-well-acted love, fake-but-well-acted despair and fake-but-well-acted happiness. The main reason why they exist is because: it’s true – they’re fake. Since most artists don’t write their own lyrics or even their own music sometimes, it’s almost impossible to share the same emotions as the original writer who was probably underpaid even though the lyrics weren’t worth anything anyway. In addition, the artists are usually pressured by their producer or other employers to release something soon: they don’t really care about the content, as long as it can make a profit. With this kind of attitude, can the material they produce really be called ‘music’?

Okay, maybe that was a little too harsh. Sometimes, between the sound of buses crashing into skyscrapers and mass vomiting, there are one or two rays of musical sunshine peeping through the debris. These light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel moments are, unfortunately, sections where the composer thought “Arrgg… this part doesn’t work, I’ll just put in something random then.”

“If you don’t like it, don’t listen to it!” I hear people say. Well, there are around 30 music channels on Sky if you get the ‘Entertainment Extra Pack’, and if you switch through them all consecutively, 28 of them will sound the same. The other two will be the classical channel that’s going bankrupt and the 80s channel which only appeals to women over forty. Whether it’s on the radio or the television, finding intelligent music is like looking for a mathematical equation in a dictionary.

As if the musical aspect of modern music isn’t horrifying enough, the lyrical part is worse. According to a study in the US, around a third of chart music includes explicit reference to drugs or alcohol. The average teenager listens to this music for about two and a half hours a day, exposing them to around 84 drugs or alcohol references a day, 591 a week, and 30732 a year just from music. It’s already been proven that when a teenager watches smoking or drinking in a film, it can influence their decisions in the future; and that viewing violent movies can induce violence3. Thus, it would be logical to assume that music has the same effect. In the same way clothing and other advertisements depicting an airbrushed model encourages unhealthy dieting and anorexia, the increasing amount of exposure to drugs and crime reference will lead this generation to its downfall. This is the catastrophic consequence of letting illegitimate artists unleash their stupidity into the market of inexperienced teens.

In my opinion, there should be much more variety available in music. We, the non-mainstream musicians, should no longer cower when asked for our favourite song. Be it Bach’s violin concerto BWV 1056 or Rachmaninoff’s Caprice Bohémien, we should proudly declare it. We should collectively donate money to orchestras and composers; regularly attend concerts and recitals, or even host our own and share the wonders of intelligent music. Although the current market is dominated by the tone-deaf majority of single digit IQ gluttons, if we of the real music unite, surely we can shatter their foolish chain of greed and indoctrination.