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article imagePop music has developed in three steps

By Tim Sandle     May 8, 2015 in Entertainment
London - Pop music is around 50 years old. in that time tastes have changed and the style of music has altered. One group of academics have put forward that the evolution of pop music can be traced to three pivotal moments.
Researchers based at Queen Mary University of London and Imperial College London have examined the gestation of popular music from 1960 to 2010. This fifty year period, they propose, contained three key moments or "revolutions." To do this, the researchers looked at every song to chart in the U.S. Billboard Top 100, a massive 17,000 tracks.
From this analysis, the academics uncovered three music revolutions which they attached to the years 1964, 1983 and 1991. Here they traced significant changes to the way that music was composed and played, including the loss of blues chords from the charts and the rise of disco.
Change #1: In the early 1960s, the researchers suggest, chords termed dominant sevenths, found in jazz and blues started disappear. Then, around 1964, as pioneered by the Beatles to the Rolling Stones, a new rocky sound started to become commonplace.
Change #2: Around 1983, there was an injection of new technology including synthesisers, samplers and drum machines, which lead to different beats and rhythms.
Change 3: In 1991, hip-hop became mainstream and led to the establishment of a new range of singers and beats.
Discussing the third outcome with the BBC, Dr Matthias Mauch said that the third "revolution" was the most significant: "This is so prominent in our analysis, because we looked at harmony — and rap and hip-hop don't use a lot of harmony. The emphasis is on speech sounds and rhythm. This was a real revolution: suddenly it was possible that you had a pop song without harmony."
This relates to how the research group pinpointed these three 'revolutions.' Here the scientists examined the core characteristics of music, such as harmony, chords changes and timbres (the tonal quality of the music). They then worked their way through the 17,000 tracks in chronological order to see how these key factors altered over time.
The analysis has been published in the Royal Society Open Science journal. The research paper, which is free to read, is called "The evolution of popular music: USA 1960–2010."
More about Pop music, Rock, Pop, Soul, Disco
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