I Miss Real Drums, Rhythmic Variation, Song Dynamics . . .

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I've been stuck trying to figure out why contemporary pop music, in large part, doesn't interest me. For awhile I suspected that I was just getting old and conservative in my taste. However, I sort of knew that wasn't the case, but I couldn't really express why. Today I discovered this video while I was drinking coffee. I think Beato sums up a lot of the problems with the state of pop music.

 

arlum

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I Miss Real Drums, Rhythmic Variation, Song Dynamics​


I am so on your side! I use a drum machine to practice with and even lay down tracks to a new song I'm arranging but would never use one for a live performance. A real drummer is "in the moment". They add feel and dynamics no fake drums could ever capture. Plus .... they're a real part of a human band. Even their mistakes make the experience more real. Perfection is beyond a human's ability. Maybe Michael & The Archangels could pull it off but it wouldn't be something a human could identify with. I like to listen to human music played by human bands and I want their recordings to be true to their abilities. I quit going to concerts when they became revelations of a bands true talent compared to what their recordings promised. Fake this. Modeled that. Multiple parts spliced together to hide mistakes. Live is live. No fake crap or recordings in use. On the spot. In the moment. A few mistakes here and there allow the listener to identify. To be one with. Perfection is inhuman.
 

hemingway

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I use a drum machine but I spend a LONG time constructing the songs and making the drums as dynamic as possible. Then I add real percussion.

Even so, I reckon I might just learn drums. It would be a hell of a lot easier than fighting a machine.
 

Blazer

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I heard this remix somebody did of Prince' "When doves Cry" and he added a Four-on-the-floor drum beat and wondered aloud why, in his own words, "It altered the song's feel."


"When Doves cry" has a drum computer, a Linn Drum to be exact, but this being PRINCE, he made it so that it played a complex and highly dynamic part. Adding a four-on-the-floor beat takes away all those dynamics which Prince was so masterful at producing.

These days, it's all about taking a hook and repeating it over and over, so people can dance and chant along with it. Sadly, that also means that when those artists take a well known song and cover it, they decide to forgo everything that made the original song musically interesting.


This cover of Tracey Chapman's classic takes the guitar riff and repeats it over and over, forgoing the modulation for the chorus. (A side note, this version was a far bigger hit than the original.)


This cover of Sting's classic, forgoes not only the bridge and the Jazzy interlude but also the second and third verses, taking away everything that made the song musically interesting.

But this way or working isn't new. In a recent interview for the BBC, the guy who did the S-Express single in 1988, said that he wanted to take the Synth hook of Rose Royce's "Is it love you're after" and make it go on longer than it did in the original song.


Likewise, when one hit wonders Dee-Lite did their song "Groove is in the heart" they took the bassline from Herbie Hancock's "Bring down the birds" and slowed it down and repeated over and over.


BUT both S-Express and Dee-Lite DID put dynamics and variation in their songs, something that the current music scene is very much lacking.
 

bgmacaw

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LOL lord, this site

grandpasimpsonavoid0.gif
 

Blazer

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Four-on-the-floor loud kick drum part as the basis for every single song is so boring!
I remember this techno version coming out from Nik Kershaw's "The riddle" and me asking the kids who listened to it if they knew the original version. They said "It's slower." And me pointing out that it wasn't slower, the reason they thought it was had everything to do with the fact that the kick was only doing beats on the first and third counts.

They simply couldn't grasp that concept.
 

THX1123

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I don't think one can put all the blame on the tools, but I feel like the tools have enabled mediocrity to truly triumph. Pop was always disposable, but now "Pop," auto-tuned mumbly-rappers, all the "Imagine Dragons" derivatives, and whatever "Country" music has become all feels like the same song, and therefore like another stick of gum in a pack to chew up and spit out.

People have been consuming vapid pop for decades. I personally like the bubblegum of the late 60's & early 70's. and that's pretty sugary-pop. It was meant to be disposable, but I still hear The Archies and Crazy Elephant on the wacky AM radio station I like.

That said, the tools available in the past meant people had to actually create vapid pop. They had to have actual skilled humans play the music. Those people often intuitively or purposefully added nuance and personality. Someone also had to actually be able to sing it.

To me it is the premeditated sameness of much of today's product that wears me down. Sameness because I think it is more product than art. Sameness because modern production tools enable people to focus more on imitating each other in a race to the bottom than on just crafting a song because they are artists. Music with brutally basic melodic content and facile or topical time-based meaning can be fun, but without irony I think it is, and will remain a base form or art.

When I listen to newer artists like Idles, Alduos Harding, or The Viagra Boys I feel something that isn't remotely associated with what I might hear on a TV commercial.
 

burntfrijoles

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No surprise that you prefer "real" instruments played by real people. Then again, more music is being created virtually and new genres either fully or partially employ virtual instruments, sequences, etc. It is what it is.

iPad OS Garageband has varying rhythmic, melody patterns for virtual guitars, keyboards in addition to drums. Some are very useable, if generic and soulless. You can even strum the chords on the virtual guitar instruments. It can't compete with a real guitar nor should it be able to do so.

Music styles and tastes change each generation. I'm in my early 70s and the last music that I found interesting was in the 90s. I have no doubt that good music, worth my attention has been created since then but I don't have the desire to learn more about it. In fact, I recently spent 9 hours each way from the east coast of Florida to Baton Rouge. I had Siri play multiple artists that I consider "my music" style and found that I no longer liked much of it.

As for Beato, I don't understand why he gets so much pub. It's just his opinion. I don't watch him or any of the "influencers" because their "take" is no better than mine or any other player and observer.
 

Cosmic Cowboy

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I agree with the premise of the video. I also agree with the poster a few above that Rick has done some complete garbage music as well. Also his musical tastes are quirky. Dont know another guy that claims to listen to the Beatles and Taylor Swift.
 

buster poser

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The really puzzling thing as has been said here repeatedly during multiple iterations of "boo drum machines and also the pop music" threads is that the most narrow slice of music we all seek is out there and more accessible to us, the prospective listener, than ever. I promise that whatever specific blue/country/soul/rawk itch you have is out there being scratched, likely by some 25yo who stumbled onto Sam & Dave or Bob Wills via the Internet.

Who cares what's popular or on the radio? If we want to listen to good music, however we define that, we should go find it, no? Indicting "today's music" broadly marks one as an ignoramus who approaches music so passively they can't be bothered to use a search field or try anything new beyond what is fed to them/the genres & artists they liked age 17-25. Gotta say it's hard to take opinions from such folks very seriously.
 

Killing Floor

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Modern drum machines have really nailed the greatest human factors, they don’t load themselves in, they don’t load themselves out. But drum machines don’t interject comments about your guitar tone and they don’t keep playing after the song is over and the singer is trying to introduce the next one. Drum machines don’t want your band to play an original song they wrote about their girlfriend.

Hard to find a negative.
 

David Barnett

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Modern drum machines have really nailed the greatest human factors, they don’t load themselves in, they don’t load themselves out. But drum machines don’t interject comments about your guitar tone and they don’t keep playing after the song is over and the singer is trying to introduce the next one. Drum machines don’t want your band to play an original song they wrote about their girlfriend.

Hard to find a negative.

And a drum machine didn't write "We're An American Band".
 

KC

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I dunno -- I'm old, white, cranky and retired, and I listen to junk pop at the gym, and it's great. A song like Levitating by Dua Lipa has everything wrong with it as noted above -- machine-made, synthetic, repetitive, apparently plagiarized as well -- and yet I get all jacked up whenever it comes on and spin the elliptical up another notch. Not all pop pleasures age well but they can be fun while they last. Charli XCX is pretty good and Caroline Polachek is f*ing brilliant. The music we think of as genius was made to be disposable pop junk, for the most part, "three minute symphonies for kids" to quote Phil Spector. Most of it's long gone (farewell, Herman's Hermits) but some of it is enduringly great.
 

Jowes_84

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Whenever I play on my Roland SPD pad I wander off into techno land, 4 on the floor, boom boom and so forth. Then add the MicroKorg. No matter how much you think you despise it… it is easy to digest, danceable and spreading good vibes. It’s a good thing, hard to resist. Also, killing floor has a point, it keeps the beat. But pay attention, it won’t drag or speed up when you do.
 




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