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Study Reveals Decline in Melodic Complexity of Chart-Topping Music

Melodies in modern chart-topping music are less complex than those of the past, according to a study led by Queen Mary University of London. The analysis of top hits from 1950 to 2022 shows that melody complexity declined significantly in 1975, 1996, and 2000. The study links this change to the rise of new music genres like stadium rock, disco, and hip-hop, and finds no decline in other musical aspects such as timbre or harmony.
A new study conducted by scientists from Queen Mary University of London has found that melodies in modern chart-topping music are less complex than those from previous decades.

Co-authors Madeline Hamilton and Dr. Marcus Pearce analyzed songs from the top five of the US Billboard year-end singles music chart from 1950 to 2022.

They discovered that the average complexity of melodies has decreased over time, with significant drops in 1975, 1996, and 2000.

Hamilton suggests this change could be due to the rise of new genres like stadium rock, disco, and hip-hop.

Despite this, the study found no decline in the timbre or harmony of music, and an overall increase in the density of notes per second since 2000.

Hamilton is expanding her research to include other musical aspects, such as chords.
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