I read an article a few days ago about how music literacy and quality had declined through the years. The author, a first-sight musician, and accomplished jazz player, had meticulously broken down his arguments according to notes, tone, and even lyrical quality and loudness, employing tested theories and algorithms.
Now, I’m not here to discuss and refute the overly technical assessment of his piece, because he may partly be true, but just to summarize it, his conclusion is that the music of today had become homogenous, sounding more or less the same, and using the same tried and tested (therefore safe) hooks, familiar riffs and effects.
In the case of lyric intelligence, he stated it had likewise become repetitive, and lacking in depth and substance. In all, popular music had the overall design that meant to sell and not to inspire, becoming adherent to the dictates of risk-aversed music producers.
Quite a loadful of ouch, if you ask me, but the truth is, he is entitled to his own opinion. However, if in this context, I’ve got no quarrel with the guy, the fact that he had insinuated that music proficiency was the main source of quality in musical compositions, then I would call him out. First, I would say that’s elitist arrogance. Is he indirectly saying ordinary folks and artists who are not so up-there with rest of them better get educated fast in order to come out with a quality opus? By whose standards are we basing quality by the way?
In the past, I have met several educated musicians who’ve lost touch their with ordinary peers, but never have I generalized that all note readers are snobs. In fact, many are humble and generous at sharing their skills with others.
Music is not the sole property of a few, and however one interprets it is up to them. Henry David Thoreau says, “if a man does not keep in step with his companions, it is maybe because he hears a different drummer. Let him listen to the music he hears, however distant or far away.”