May 31, 2005

Dynamics in Pop Music

While the study is several years old by now, a friend pointed me to this study of the dynamic characteristics of top-selling pop songs (full listing of songs here). The author convincingly connects sonogram readings with how people hear the songs. Great example of analysis done right.

George Rochberg, 1918-2005

Without even regarding his music, George Rochberg should forever serve as the paragon of artistic integrity in music. With his much-noted shift in style, he eschewed fashion in order to be honest to himself. Before I even knew his music, he had my profound respect. Once I started listening, I found his work continually demonstrated this daring attitude. Certainly people scoffed when Pachelbel's canon showed up in his sixth quartet, but how many other composers would have the balls to do the same thing with their own music? He asserted the right of the composer to make uncertain moves, showing that the honest effort has value in and off itself. While the keen confidence of so many great composers requires a certain resilience from those who wish to measure up to them, the example left by Rochberg demands an entirely different type of mettle.