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Evolution of Music
22 January 2016
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KaleidoscopeMusic
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Say the Beatles didn't exist: Where would music be now? In what ways has their music and others (even classical musicians) influenced modern-day songs? How have different genres around the world combined to make a good contemporary sound?

I'm curious about these questions and decided there's such a variety of possibilities that it deserves a whole topic. 

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22 January 2016
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Starr Shine?
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There would still be rock. The Beach Boys might of done some new stuff with it.

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22 January 2016
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ewe2
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In a sense it's almost too big a question to ask. The Beatles disrupted the culture and the music industry on a massive scale. Perhaps the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones might have lifted the lid a bit. Perhaps RnB might have been even bigger. I'm not that sure the spirit of experimentation and diversity would have been such to encourage so many diverse genres. How do we know James Brown or Joni MItchell or even Dylan would got where they did, to say nothing of the Byrds or Pink Floyd or The Who? If the Yardbirds didn't get anywhere, there's a whole slab of British blues, Clapton included that might never have seen the light of day. Would fusion, prog rock or heavy rock come about? If the industry had been able to keep the game to themselves without a torrent of new people encouraged by the possibilities the Beatles suggested, I really doubt that. The Beatles initial success encouraged the industry, their artistic movement encouraged other musicians, and these things fed upon each other in a way you couldn't predict.

There are some who say it was inevitable, but no one can prove it. Musically, there's a nice series that Howard Goodall made about the Beatles you can watch on youtube, which makes a persuasive case. I"m not sure they were the only ones in revitalizing older forms in a pop format, but then the definition of pop was expanding rapidly in the era anyway.

Finally I don't know what defines a "contemporary sound". It's a good question though a-hard-days-night-george-10

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23 January 2016
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As ewe2 said the Beatles blew a tired formulaic drab music scene apart, heralding in a totally different scene that no one would have ever though possible. Something would have changed but i doubt anything close to what actually happened.

Its impossible to tell with the The Stones as they were mostly a R&B cover band who got a record deal on George's suggestion and turned to Lennon/McCartney to write their second single, inspiring Mick and Keith to start writing their own material. Dylan would have had some effect but even then The Beatles had a massive impact on his career.

As with nowadays The Beatles influence in all ways continues to reverberate; even if we forget their music they inspired guys to pick up guitars and form bands, artists to write their own material, bands to be more than one lead vocalist, the album as a concept not just a collection of unrelated songs, artwork to be more than a cheesy picture of the group/artist, albums to be more than a couple of hit songs and 12 sound-a-likes. Even Brian had influence in how he did business (despite his failings). All of this might have changed over time but not in the few years that it did.

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23 January 2016
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If you look at what was happening in the early 60's, in America you had the Beach Boys and a folky movement on the West Coast, and RnB and a different folky movement on the East Coast, a lot of country music in between and jazz was still very big, and the popular charts were still very dominated by standards and crooners. In England Cliff Richard and the Shadows could do no wrong, and there was a great deal of horrible twee stuff on the charts, and garbled versions of whatever was going on from across the Atlantic. From all accounts, it might have been expected that any movements would have originated in the US and filtered over to the UK; the miracle is that that got changed. So when I say RnB might have been the big hope and the Stones may have been part of that, I'm talking about an alternative world history we can only guess at.

As Goodall says, classical music was nowhere in sight of any of this, nor was avant-garde and electronic composition, and certainly not jazz. Indeed, the biggest casualty of all this change might have been jazzl while it did try to take advantage of the 60's and spawned a few interesting genres, it is a very different story now: there's no unity to it, and it's hopelessly split. On the contrary, classical music, avant-garde and electronic music have flourished. Leaving the fringe genres aside, what classical and jazz had in common was the problem of popular support, and while jazz still had that going, it was beginning to dwindle in the face of rocknroll, and classical music was in a massive hole of its own digging.

But classical had the benefit of state support, which is something jazz too has had to lean on, in a few places. I really don't know if it would have risen to the challenge and reinvented itself for new audiences the way it did; classical materially benefited from the increased interest and recording opportunities afforded it by the 60's music culture, but that's become an enduring niche and together with much better recordings that sell well, people are still writing classical music and that is being supported.

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23 January 2016
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Interesting topic to bring up. For starters, some bands and artists of both the past and today probably wouldn't be in the music industry. Since lots of people were inspired by The Beatles, bands and artists such as Queen wouldn't have ever existed. But, there's a possibility that another artist could've inspired them, so they could've still existed, but their music would be totally different. Another artist such as The Beach Boys could've been the ones making a huge evolution to the music industry. Music would probably be a bit more different, but I'm not too sure what could have happened. It's all just a hard concept to grasp for me

23 January 2016
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Thanks for your answers, everyone! They were so interesting!

@ewe2 By contemporary, I guess I meant modern melody patterns and not just a pop sound. (If that makes any more sense.) Interesting comments about jazz. I agree on the classical. Most pop music ironically contains more baroque-style dissonance--which is arguably mainly from the Beatles along with other rock groups. Before then, pop music didn't contain the accidentals classical does. But if the Beatles didn't exist, jazz and other rock groups could have formed as what you said--R & B style. I can imagine music on the radio being like Adele's. Adele has real vocal and writing talent, which the pop music industry needs more of now, but I still would never trade good modern songs for brilliant ones in the past. Yay for music history!

I've actually already seen that on Youtube. One of the best learning experiences with music, and how I came to know some of the above information.

Who besides the Beatles really invented electronic music (and used it as well)? I wonder how that would evolve. The questions are baffling! a-hard-days-night-ringo-13

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23 January 2016
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The people who invented the electronic instruments tended to be the ones who played them, but clearly the Moog was vital by being saleable and I think its development would have continued but slower for not being associated with popular music. The actual turning point for electronic music was the early 1970's, with the minimoog and the vcs3, but again, they needed a market that might not have been there.

I don't know whether the structure of modern songs would be more influenced by musical fashion or the legalities of the industry in the absence of the Beatles. If I were to put my finger on it, it would be the greater importance of complex rhythm under a simple melody (rather than a detailed melody over simple chords in the pop sense), with the melodic freedom you mention @KaleidoscopeMusic, and a lot of that is due to the dance genres and the continuing exploration of timbres and rhythmic structure. The pop charts are full of a version of RnB/Soul that continually rips off rap and whatever cool sound they can grab from the dance genres and its been in that holding pattern for at least 15 years. The charts themselves are meaningless, and I have major doubts that industry sales figures aren't a brilliant work of imagination. I think the only way you're going to chart any kind of future movement is in the self-professed and latent influences of musicians, the field is now so wide.

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4 February 2016
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Is electronic music used in the way the Beatles intended?

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4 February 2016
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The Beatles should decided how everyone uses electronic music.

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4 February 2016
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KaleidoscopeMusic said

Is electronic music used in the way the Beatles intended?

I don't think the Beatles were any better than anyone else at predicting the direction of electronic music. They dabbled with it and tried a few styles with it, in the sense that it was a new kind of noise rather than creating a new genre, and I think it's fairly obvious to Beatles fans where the bulk of Beatle genre preferences are. Having said that, Paul has successfully experimented in a number of electronic genres and it's an interesting match.

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4 February 2016
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KaleidoscopeMusic said
Is electronic music used in the way the Beatles intended?

I think electronic music is, nowadays, used the way Stockhusen did it.

This is from 1964. A piece for tam-tam, 2 microphones, and 2 filters with potentiometers 

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5 February 2016
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What I meant to compare electronic music is what you normally hear in pop songs today. The examples @Shamrock Womlbs gave (both of them, even) remind me of what the Beatles did in imitating sounds and then inserting them into their music as a form of pitch and instrumentation. Today I feel that EM is more primitive in style. I could be wrong, though, since I don't really know much about it. Can someone explain what a tam-tam and potentiometer is?

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5 February 2016
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Tam tam

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Potentiometers are the knobs used in almost every electronic device to control it's intensity in volume, frequency or whatever:

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5 February 2016
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Well, would Kraftwerk have existed without the Beatles? Probably.

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Most likely to post things that make you go hmm... 2015, 2016, 2017. 

5 February 2016
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Necko said

Well, would Kraftwerk have existed without the Beatles? Probably.

Definitely. The story of German electronic music is pretty amazing, they took it to a new level.

KaleidoscopeMusic said
What I meant to compare electronic music is what you normally hear in pop songs today. The examples @Shamrock Womlbs gave (both of them, even) remind me of what the Beatles did in imitating sounds and then inserting them into their music as a form of pitch and instrumentation. Today I feel that EM is more primitive in style. I could be wrong, though, since I don't really know much about it.

The pop might be, electronic music is more than just that style. Pop will eat itselftake anything from any genre or instrument and use it, don't confuse that with other genres. Electronic music is still just mathematically making noise, is still avant garde, is still ambient, is still analogue, is still digital. It's a bit of a wishing well that people would like to take the goodies from but that turns out to be more difficult that it looks.

What is "primitive" anyway? Less chord progressions? No vocals (or vocals that are electronically mangled for fun)? Define terms! If electronic music is Kraftwerk, is it also Cut Copy? If it's Brian Eno, is it also James Harper? Rökysopp? Orbital? Prodigy? NiN? All those artists use serious (by which I mean the hard way of doing EM, even down to 70's machines with patch cords), electronic synthesis however disguised by the rhythms and noises. That's one reason why analogue synthesisers have had a major revival lately because now the digital electronics is good enough to synthesise the old circuits and do more in a single unit.

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6 February 2016
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ewe2 said

What is "primitive" anyway? Less chord progressions? No vocals (or vocals that are electronically mangled for fun)? Define terms! If electronic music is Kraftwerk, is it also Cut Copy? If it's Brian Eno, is it also James Harper? Rökysopp? Orbital? Prodigy? NiN? All those artists use serious (by which I mean the hard way of doing EM, even down to 70's machines with patch cords), electronic synthesis however disguised by the rhythms and noises. That's one reason why analogue synthesisers have had a major revival lately because now the digital electronics is good enough to synthesise the old circuits and do more in a single unit.

I don't know any actual electronic music. I guess I'm referring to is the tracking for pop music. Primitive would be just bass beats in the background with minimum instruments and more concentration on synthesizers and vocals. I suppose I'm trying to make the connection between that and what the Beatles did. Who knows, now they seem completely different.

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6 February 2016
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Were the Beatles interested in doing any particular music genre after 1970? Where would music be now if they had continued? I also wonder if it would have been better for us and worse for them in the sense that they wouldn't have as much quality music if they weren't committed but we would have better music now because they would have stuck around longer.

Why do I keep asking impossible questions

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6 February 2016
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KaleidoscopeMusic said
I don't know any actual electronic music. I guess I'm referring to is the tracking for pop music. Primitive would be just bass beats in the background with minimum instruments and more concentration on synthesizers and vocals. I suppose I'm trying to make the connection between that and what the Beatles did. Who knows, now they seem completely different.

Ok, I figured that's maybe what you meant. I just went overboard in my answer to illustrate that it's not all about just that, nor that it's necessarily primitive to do so. Like I said, Paul has done some of this, and that's the strongest connection between the Beatles and electronic music we're likely to get. The Fireman albums go from very strict "primitive" dance instrumentals through to more ambient and experimental music through to recognizable songs with some electronica.

KaleidoscopeMusic said

Were the Beatles interested in doing any particular music genre after 1970? Where would music be now if they had continued? I also wonder if it would have been better for us and worse for them in the sense that they wouldn't have as much quality music if they weren't committed but we would have better music now because they would have stuck around longer.

Why do I keep asking impossible questions

No no they're good questions! apple01 They're worth exploring, even if they can never have answers. For instance, I think Lennon said at one point during the 70's that ELO was close to the kind of stuff they might have done if they'd continued, and I always assume he meant (at least partly) that they would have used more synthesisers, and perhaps written more instrumental music than simple pop songs.

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7 February 2016
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a-hard-days-night-ringo-8It honestly amazes me how advanced Abbey Road is musically. It seems like a precursor to what you were mentioning. I feel like mainstream pop could be so much better if they had changed it by what they were doing towards the end. It could have been a cross between rock sound and classical techniques=heaven.

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