Quora Answer : Which two music genres are completely different but have a similar origin?

Jul 12, 2020

Well technically, these three pieces all have their roots in the same music, about 80 to 100 years ago.

And you can hear that they basically have the same structure. Some kind of repeating sequence of chords, with a strong rhythmic pulse, over which there's some kind of semi-improvised, free floating lead. The rhythm may change occasionally, but the pulse / mood stays fairly constant throughout.

They differ in what their rhythm is, what particular modes / scales they use. And especially in the instrumentation, tonality and "sound world".

But their structure and even purpose is similar.

These are all, effectively, miniature musical "landscapes". They paint a picture of an emotional place and invite you to explore within it. They don't particularly tell a musical "narrative". Or try to contain and show a transition between contrasting emotions. They aren't about contrast and change. They are about capturing their mood as absolutely as possible.

Surprisingly, they are all pieces of music designed to be heard within a larger context which consists of other pieces of music of similar style. So that you can fully immerse yourself within that feeling and allow it to interact with your emotional state, to face your demons, and perhaps find some kind of catharsis to internal woes.

These are all pieces of music that owe their existence to recording technology. They are as much products of recording engineering as they are of traditional music composition. They are made to be distributed on records, and listened to on records. Perhaps alone. Or in a group of aficionados.

Perhaps more surprisingly, although none of them may sound particularly easy to dance to, their common ancestry is dance music. Music intended to provide the soundtrack for parties / social gathering. Hence the prominent use of percussion and drums in all of them.

Let's trace each one back a bit ... towards their common ancestor.

Let's take the metal track back about 40 years :

And we'll take the ancestry of the dubstep back to about the same time

Not quite the same genre of music. But they are noticeably much more similar. And the dance aspect of both is strong.

Now go back another 15 years, and we can find a common ancestor of both metal and the funk / disco family tree which leads to dubstep : Muddy Waters, 1955, Manish Boy :

Chet Baker was actually around, recording at that time, and he sounded like this :

To find the common origin of Baker and Muddy Waters you'll have to go further back into jazz / blues history. But they will definitely converge at some point.

You can easily imagine both Baker and Waters knowing and rating this, for example :

Quora Answer : How did the R&B of the '60s evolve into what we call R&B today in which every syllable is so full of melisma? The styles seem so different. What are some examples of songs that show the transition?

Jun 21, 2020

I'm not sure if this answers your question.

But I think this is a key "transitional" track.

I mean, watch this video and listen to this music from 1980, 40 years ago.

It's the blueprint for so much of where modern soul / r'n'b / hip-hop went, particularly for male artists. Very up-front sexuality. Not much tune, but a kind of overt emotional moaning. Music that's more of a slick electronic backdrop to the vocals, rather than having much narrative structure in its own right. But it has a sensuous beat for slow dancing to.

And a video full of hot girls, and luxurious backdrops, tempting our horny hero.

You can see and hear that this is where Drake and The Weeknd and all of today's mumble rappers and auto-crooners come from.

Quora Answer : Why don't they make today's music more sophisticated?

Sep 28, 2020

Today's music is very sophisticated in some dimensions. And not very sophisticated in others.

Why has this changed?

Well the thing to understand about music. Particularly "popular" music, which really means music in a fast evolving market. Is that music is "functional".

Most people don't simply sit back and "listen" to music. They use music.

Different music is for different functions. And increasingly it's specialized and optimized for those functions. And places.

So music is made for driving to. For listening to while working out at the gym. For dancing to at a rave. For listening to in the background at work. For feeling sad to when your boyfriend cheated on you. For accompanying an exciting car chase in a movie. To provide a familiar rhythm and ambience to the video-game you'll be playing for the next 4 hours, and warn you when something bad is going to happen with subtle cues. To pump you up before going into battle or a difficult meeting. For a group of teens to listen to and get excited about in the school playground. To piss off your parents and declare you are now your own person. For yoga. To make a restaurant feel authentic. To calm you at the dentist. To make your new car sound mega-cool in front of the rest of the kids on the block.

Etc. Etc. Etc.

And it may be listened to on headphones. On a tiny phone speaker. On a huge club sound-system. In a car competing with the sound of the engine. Each a different sound environment making different demands in terms of which parts of the frequency spectrum are used, are amplified etc.

Most music today doesn't exist for its own sake. To just be music.

Most music exists to accompany and enhance these situations, emotions, experiences. And to remind you of them later.

It's not there for you to listen to it and simply immerse yourself in it and admire its complexities and diversity.

Of course, some music is made for that, and there's an audience for it.

But that audience is a tiny slice of the overall music audience. So the other usages tend to dominate.

Now, like I say, today's music can be very sophisticated in the way it is fine tuned and adapted to these situations and usages.

But that fine-tuning is at odds with other virtues. Older music has an ideal of variety. A symphony has fast and slow movements. And voyages from happy, to melancholic to glorious etc. That variety is an essential and admired part of the construction.

Even a progressive rock track might have aspirations for a similarly wide-ranging tour in its 15 minute compass.

But music made to be "used" in specific situations has the opposite requirement.

If it's music to pump you up, it can't suddenly turn quiet and introspective half-way through. Music to sooth can't turn abrasive. And music to drive to can't stop competing with the engine. Dance music that loses the groove is failed dance music. Music for teenage boys can't turn all mushy unless it's explicitly emo, and then it has to be all emo. Music for yoga can't have jokes or negative vibes.

In particular, music made for clubbing is not music designed to have its own internal narrative arc. Music for clubbing is music which is effectively a component like a Lego brick, that a DJ is going to slot into a longer musical journey or larger structure.

Like a Lego brick it must have standardized connectors. It can't just change the mood or speed or rhythm half way through. It can't even be sure where it will be started at the beginning, or where it is going to be exited. It has to start with a grove, continue it throughout, and leave it more or less where it finds it. As much pop music has aspirations to also be played in clubs, then it follows a similar formula.

Listen to today's music properly. You'll find it's hugely "sophisticated" in terms of being fine-tuned, highly polished, highly specialized for the particular ecological niche it is intended to fill.

But what it isn't, is a self-contained world, designed to encompass a whole range within itself. It's "simple" in the sense it has to have one good idea. And stick to it. Because that good idea is where it fits into the wider context of the mix or playlist or movie sound-track or road-trip. This modern music is all about the connections it makes with things outside itself. And the usage that can be made of it. Not an internal complexity.

Quora Answer : Why did the disco genre music in the 70s change to become hip-hop dance in the 80s?

Sep 9

Programmable drum-machines and sequencers got cheap.

In the 70s, if you wanted a groove, you needed a band to play it.

The disco genre is tight, dance-focused, DJ-friendly music.

But it was still composed and played by a band. Who had the mentality and outlook of a group of musicians. They made music for dancers. But also to please themselves as musicians. Constrained by what they could actually perform live.

And then it still needed a record label to decide they liked it. And to invest the money in recording it and making it into records.

Meanwhile, in the 70s, drum machines and sequencers did kind of exist. But they were very big, very expensive and very geeky.

Then by the early 80s, thanks to microprocessors, drum machines and synths and sequencers had become cheaper, and were now smaller, more convenient and easier to learn.

This had a dramatic effect. It meant that DJs could start making their own music.

(BTW : That music was not so much "hip-hop dance" - hip-hop has other aspects to it - as it was "house". That's really the essence of "house music". Music made not by musicians but by DJs. For their "house" (ie. the club they worked at) )

The thing is, the DJs knew exactly what worked on their dance-floors, with their crowds. They knew what the crowd liked. What would drive up the energy. What would hold the crowd's attention.

And now they had drum-machines and sequencers, they could make music that was fine-tuned and structured for those requirements.

They didn't need to wait for a group of musicians to think of that idea, and learn to play it. And for a record company to decide that it might make money, and agree to hire a studio, record the band, and manufacture a record. They could come up with an idea of their own in their studio or even spare-bedroom. Program it, tweak it a bit, and record it straight to tape or get a dub-plate pressed, and take it out to play that week.

This revolutionized dance music. This is why we have electronic dance music, and why it's such a big deal. Microprocessors allowed DJs to cut out all the middle-men in bands and record labels. And to make music directly for their public of dancers.

Quora Answer : What are some 'decade transition songs' in which one can hear musical trends of both a decade ending and the next one beginning?

May 17, 2020

In retrospect I'd say this is a pivotal moment in pop music.

Marvin Gaye - Sexual Healing

That moment a major 70s soul singer embraced drum machine, synths and slick digital production.

So much artificiality. And yet so much humanity. The overt up-front sexuality; no euphemisms or beating about the bush here. The yearning voice ... not really singing any noticeable tune. There's no melodic development or structure. Just an ongoing ululating moaning within a pretty small range of notes. Against a bland backdrop.

And yet this is the blueprint for the future. Not just the 80s, but right through to today. If you want to know where Drake and Juice WRLD and all those mumbling cloud-rappers and "auto-crooners" come from ... this is the urtext. The seed of so much future pop music.

Quora Answer : Why does music not seem to change much anymore? We used to get cycles of music that would be trendy from one era to the next, but now we just keep regurgitating the same pop and rap stuff that we've been playing since the early 2000's.

Apr 20, 2018

If you listen to the music it sounds nothing like it sounded in the early 2000s.

Go back and listen to hip-hop from around that time, listen to Timbaland productions, Puff Daddy or Eminem's breakout tracks and compare them to some contemporary rappers like Lil Yachty, Future or Cardi B.

I'd say that difference is easily as big as, say, the gap between early 70s rock such as Led Zeppelin or The Eagles, and mid 80s post-punk / indie such as The Smiths or The Pixies.

Pop music tends to have more of a continuity. But even there, the soundworld / production of pop in 2018 is somewhat different from the soundworld of 2001. Thanks to the new technologies and trends borrowed from EDM etc.

Related :

Phil Jones (He / Him)'s answer to Does anyone think that 2010s music and culture is bland, soulless and mediocre?