The Phenomenon of Rigid Song Structures in Pop

Friday, 5 October 2007
by Martin Dittus
filed under Found On Last.fm and Stuff Other People Made
Comments: 28

The Last.fm Research group links to an interesting article on the Hometracked blog: All Linkin Park songs look the same

In the author’s words:

Each image below shows the audio level in (roughly) the first 90 seconds of a Linkin Park song. Note that I adjusted the tempo of a few tracks for better visual alignment.

Make sure to read the full article to see more pics and for the full explanation.

Do you disagree with the implications? Does this say anything about the state of Pop? What other patterns could one find in different forms of pop music? Discuss. (But pls stay civil :)

Oh and — has anyone done similar analyses for other artists as well? Let us know if you have something to show.

Update: now giving credit where credit is due… Thanks aradnuk for pointing out the error.

Comments

  1. quasar
    5 October, 12:24

    oh, there’s an old thing with Nickelback, when some guy took one song in the left channel and another “hit” in the right channel.

    http://odeo.com/audio/16692483/view

    quasar – 5 October, 12:24
  2. Matt
    5 October, 12:54

    Haha, I came in here to post the exact same Nickelback mashup, aka How You Remind Me Of Someday. Good stuff.

    Matt – 5 October, 12:54
  3. goncalo
    5 October, 13:58

    Music still has a lot to do with society and biology, probably they found one pattern that was sucessfull with people and keep repeating while it’s profitable and I suposse this graphics are Not a coincidence.

    Dance music learned this lesson very early and very well, most styles have very specific durations, intros, outros, breakdowns… all with similar elements, timings so it become’s almost obvious even if you don’t know the song.

    Your comment does say the Tempo was altered for visual purposes but it doesn’t say how much. It could change the whole initial idea…

    goncalo – 5 October, 13:58
  4. jonn
    5 October, 14:00

    That’s pretty intense. I don’t want to sound cheesy, but good thing I have a service like Last.fm so I can avoid listening to the radio all-together.

    jonn – 5 October, 14:00
  5. mll
    5 October, 14:05

    Pop comes from rock. Rock was bred by blues. Blues is another form of tribal african music. Compare pop music to sticks on logs waveforms: they’re the same !

    My grampa was right, after all… :)

    mll – 5 October, 14:05
  6. mr_ethanboy
    5 October, 14:29

    i think linkin park likes to repeat themselves a lot more than most other bands. this shows how they love to open the song off with a quiet sample, follow with heavy crunching guitar, and then get to the verse. i don’t think we would see this same pattern on their new cd, where they actually tried to brand out. however, “minutes to midnight” is pretty awful, so it might not be worth investigating.

    mr_ethanboy – 5 October, 14:29
  7. aradnuk
    5 October, 14:45

    —> original article

    aradnuk – 5 October, 14:45
  8. Tecfan
    5 October, 14:56

    I don’t think that Babs_05 should be given credit for the journal… http://www.hometracked.com/2007/05/29/all-linkin-park-songs-look-the-same/ would be better to link to

    Tecfan – 5 October, 14:56
  9. martind
    5 October, 15:08

    Thanks guys, fixed in the article. Turns out she did credit the source, but not very prominently; sorry for the confusion.

    martind – 5 October, 15:08
  10. wonderer
    5 October, 19:06

    Most mainstream music follows some sort of pattern than is supposed to win people’s hearts. And cash.

    But to do the same musical, technical and lyrical themes over and over again is lame. And Nickelback is a disgrace.

    wonderer – 5 October, 19:06
  11. Tan The Man
    6 October, 08:26

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    Tan The Man – 6 October, 08:26
  12. Gouchi
    6 October, 11:21

    There is an interesting paper (english) about audio segmentation :

    http://shf.ircam.fr/uploads/media/SHF_Public_Report_WP2_01.pdf

    More information here :
    http://shf.ircam.fr/501.html?&L=1

    Gouchi – 6 October, 11:21
  13. andrew torrence
    6 October, 18:47

    For all the validity of this observation of conformity in pop music, I doubt that anyone within the business could give two bits, considering the mountains of cash people throw at them for this “drivel”. Don’t expect anything different until the listeners change their tune.

    andrew torrence – 6 October, 18:47
  14. Sahmeepee
    7 October, 17:53

    This article uses waveforms to illustrate how Rush albums have become progressively louder (i.e. more compressed):

    Over the Limit

    Although I can’t say I listen to them, I suspect Linkin Park tracks suffer from the same loudness overload.

    Sahmeepee – 7 October, 17:53
  15. Frank
    8 October, 08:18

    So what happened with the site-wide top tracks/artists? They seem pretty messed up.

    Frank – 8 October, 08:18
  16. Tim
    8 October, 11:14

    The artist that I’m investigating with Adobe SoundBooth right now is Arch Enemy and although they are not Pop music, they do use the same structure in the majority of their songs.

    The same with System of a Down and Children of Bodom by the way.

    This doesn’t mean the music of these bands suck, in the contrary, people like generic music, there’s nothing to be ashamed of it.

    Tim – 8 October, 11:14
  17. mosquitokillah
    8 October, 12:08

    Here’s an article about http://www.last.fm/artist/Depeche+Mode and their last album http://www.last.fm/music/Depeche+Mode/Playing+the+Angel :

    http://brianstagg.co.uk/p_t_a_clipressed/

    mosquitokillah – 8 October, 12:08
  18. Antonio Fernandes
    9 October, 15:43

    My book of the week: This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel J. Levitin. I believe his work can be basis to understand in context what the above experiment means :)

    Neuroscience and Cognitive Pshicology of Music!

    http://www.yourbrainonmusic.com/

    (the site takes a while to load, so I reccommend skipping the flash preview)

    Antonio Fernandes – 9 October, 15:43
  19. SilverNeurotic
    9 October, 23:30

    This thing goes in a circle:

    1. The record company sees that a certain type of song is really popular. They rush to make sure all the artists on their label are using that general formula that is causing people to buy the albums.

    2. The artists are pretty much stuck in a catch-22. They might want to explore more sounds, yet because of their contract they are somewhat binded by what they can and can’t do musically.

    3. Music consumers are forced upon by the same music again and again, just prepackaged different so it seems like something brand new. They completely forget that once upon a time their was good, original music and they continue buying the same old crap and the cycle continues on and on.

    SilverNeurotic – 9 October, 23:30
  20. heavyraptor
    12 October, 07:30

    Actually this is the sad thing about pop & rock … the same with hip hop, rap: it’s all the same. They just change the melody a little bit, but the music stays the same.
    That’s why I prefer 100% metal :). For me metal is real music … it’s art.

    heavyraptor – 12 October, 07:30
  21. melody
    12 October, 21:10

    Ha~~Ha

    melody – 12 October, 21:10
  22. FrmFirstTo30STM
    16 October, 14:05

    …Um not to sound nitpicky but “Pop” ?!?!…
    Linkin Park aren’t pop – yea their mainstream, but pop’s a totally type of music, ya know (if you wanna get all genrerific about it ;)

    Interesting article/experiment though…

    FrmFirstTo30STM – 16 October, 14:05
  23. Tom Carden
    19 October, 16:00

    The Greenday/Travis/Oasis mix by Party Ben illustrates the Nickelback effect of radio-friendly rock outstandingly.

    Come to think of it, the entire mashup bootleg scene is pretty much predicated on prevailing song structures, rhythms and even keys. The other art-form that takes advantage of this is DJing, of course, and that’s so prevalent now that many popular songs are structured to make them easier to mix. What goes around…

    Tom Carden – 19 October, 16:00
  24. Joshua
    19 October, 21:21

    This is about as insightful as pointing out that a haiku is composed of three lines of five, seven, and five syllables. Next you’re going to tell us a sonnet has fourteen lines.

    Joshua – 19 October, 21:21
  25. allowat
    27 October, 16:55

    This shows some of the song structure, the result of any final volume mastering.

    The loud or quiet parts of the song can be completely different instruments or frequencies.

    You could gleam more if you took all the songs produced by this artist, and graphed them.

    allowat – 27 October, 16:55
  26. susie blankton
    6 November, 17:20

    You are so right!! I’ve found that all the newest popular songs aren’t like that, meaning that while people like that sound, WE JUST CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF ALL THE DIFFERENT MUSIC IN THIS WORLD!!

    susie blankton – 6 November, 17:20
  27. JJ_in_tokyo
    13 November, 21:25

    People freak out when an artist releases a new cd and it
    “Doesn’t even sound like them!”
    Theres a reason! I love it when an artist or band modifys the way they sound. And there is a difference between changing your sound to boost sales cause thats what is popular at the time, or really changing your sound to give your fans a true meaning as to what kind of an artist you are. The world needs all kinds of music. I truly would not be the happy person i am today if i did not have music to escape to or guide me through life.

    JJ_in_tokyo – 13 November, 21:25
  28. ian.h.reddin
    14 November, 09:37

    No. The three separate stereo wave patterns are completely different. I haven´t a clue what the person is talking about. I would understand if the ´patterns´ were the same! My own ´hip-dance-ambient-techno-whatever´ music produces similar wave patterns, but doesn´t sound anything like the artists mentioned.
    Pop music, Bah, humbug!

    ian.h.reddin – 14 November, 09:37

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