A Little Bit of Music Theory and Suddenly I Have Opinions

Premature opinions, maybe, but whatever, I claim no expertise! Worth listing to, probably not, but I felt like writing them anyway, so here we go.

I’ve been learning a bit of music theory lately, Nothing to deep really just the basics I never bothered with before. I am really enjoying it! Along the way I have gotten some good info and entertainment from this guy, Rick Beato. However, while he has hinted at this sentiment many times in his other material in this video I felt he went into bad territory. It’s not that he is completely wrong, and this isn’t me coming to the defense of most of the pop music on the radio either, but at the same time his critique of modern pop music has some very strong ‘OK, Boomer’ energy that I was having a hard time putting my finger on.

Yesterday my new instrument arrived. It a little mini analog synth, and had a great time playing around. I took some time to actually learn a some of what is happening when I twist the envelope and filter knobs on this little synthesizer, and, whadayakknow, it got me thinking more about sound stuff, and coming off of that I think I have part of a why the “modern pop is boring” is incomplete.

Stylophone X-1 run through old Crate practice guitar amp

Can it be as simple as previous generations explored and experimented with scales and keys more; Interesting variations of frequency was both novel within reach to them, but modern musicians are experimenting much more with the wave shape itself?

From my own playing around I notice that adding to much variation between notes can actually distract from the variation that and expression that is being done _within_ notes, meaning simplistic chord progressions and familiar melody patterns can be a feature not a bug.

If your perception is tuned to primarily hear sophistication and expression by the pattern of changing notes, a lot of modern music is going to sound uninspired to you.

On the other hand, if your perception is tuned to hear sophistication and expression within the waves of a more simplistic note pattern, then a ‘musically complex’ song might feel similarly uninspired.

So here is the thing. I recognize I am new to thinking on this level about music, I probably am not even using the right vocabulary, or maybe using the right vocabulary incorrectly. So many Grains of salt, alright?!

On the topic of sound engineering and music history stuff: if you got a fruity TV subscription for the sake of Ted Spasso anyway, go check out “Watch the Sound”. It is pretty good!


P.S. Had I seen this guys guys response I could have skipped this post probably. He seems to have a much better grasp of the concepts and terminology than I do — no surprise. YouTube rabbit holes aren’t always a bad thing.

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