Author Topic: Ask a Geek! (Music or Science)  (Read 417 times)

Offline Endellion Viexe

  • Member
  • Posts: 87
  • Karma: +0/-0
Ask a Geek! (Music or Science)
« on: 09/23/10 04:11:49 »
It's recently come to my attention that I am a massive nerd. In particular, I'm a massive nerd with a lot of textbooks on the topics of music and various sciences. I will admit that my knowledge of physics is limited to the levels that do not require multi-variable calculus, because I simply didn't have time when I was in college to get that far with mathematics. I presume everyone on this site is a geek of some kind, with a staggering amount of knowledge on a particular topic. However, for those of you who are geeks of a different field of study, I thought I would make a forum for asking random questions.

So... if you hear a song, can tell that it sucks, but want to know why, ask me! If you want to understand why string theory was the dominant theory of creation in the atheist/physicist community for a decade, ask me! If you want to know what the hell the "blue scale" is and what it has to do with Led Zeppelin, ask me! If you want to know the difference between Schizophrenia and Multiple-Personality Disorder (if it even exists, which is under debate), ask me! If you want someone to tell you what the hell those weird chords on your guitar chart are, ask me! If you want to know why olive oil and vinegar don't mix or why you can't see through milk (those topics are related), ask me! If you want to know why If you want to know the difference between small pox and chicken pox, you can ask me, but you have much worse problems than I can fix...

(I also have a history Classic Rome and Classic Greece buff in my house, so if you have questions about that, I can ask her, but I can't make any promises on that one.)

Point is, I'm home reading all these textbooks over again, anyways, so why not ask me about it?

DISCLAIMER: I do not, in any way, shape, or form profess myself to be an expert. I simply am someone who spends a lot of time working with these topics and has a lot of books in which to look up information. Also, do not ask me how to make things explode. I probably know, but I am not going to risk telling people.

Offline Shery deWinter

  • Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc...
  • Administrator
  • Member
  • Posts: 14,201
  • Karma: +3/-0
  • Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc...
Ask a Geek! (Music or Science)
« Reply #1 on: 09/23/10 04:15:25 »
Why are most pop singers limited to only 3 notes when the human race's average is 2 octaves according to some random site I stumbled across a year ago?

Offline Endellion Viexe

  • Member
  • Posts: 87
  • Karma: +0/-0
Ask a Geek! (Music or Science)
« Reply #2 on: 09/23/10 05:08:40 »
Shery:

Well, actually, most pop songs use 5-6 notes. The reason for this being that there are a few notes on the major and minor scale that do not have a strong pull towards any other note. The third note on the scale is often ignored for this reason.  Another commonly ignored note is the 6th scalar degree. However, you're talking about why singers seem to limit themselves to a smaller selection of notes than they probably can sing. There are a few possible reasons for this:

1) While most untrained singers can probably sing over an octave, everyone's octave in which they sing is a little different. By limiting the notes in which a song is sung, you make the tune singable by a larger group of people. Throughout history, the most easily singable tune has been the most successful at gathering an audience. Since pop music literally means music that tends to be popular (though it has other connotations now), it tries to reach as many people as possible and get that song stuck in their head. Unfortunately, they're really, really good at it. I have "Bad Romance" stuck in my head as I type this.

 Also, look up the Japanese national anthem sometime. There's a reason why everyone there knows their national anthem, and not nearly as high a percentage of Americans know theirs. The American national anthem requires a large range and a number of notes that are hard to perform in any untrained singer's voice. It is a song  that favors high tenors and high sopranos, whereas a majority of the population falls into the baritone and low soprano category. The Japanese national anthem has a limited number of notes and follows an easy, scalar pattern up and down. It's just easier to sing along to and remember.

2) A lot of pop songs are extremely text-heavy. Whether the text is meaningful or not doesn't seem to matter, there just is a lot of it. If you look back at Gregorian Chant, there is a historical precedent for using a single, repeated note for delivering a lot of lines. It is simply an easy way to spit out a lot of words.

3) For some reason, it's just in style right now. I don't know if it's just people trying to combine singing and rapping again, but for some reason, repetition of notes in a rhythmically uninteresting manner is just a tactic that's popular right now. Thus, it's in pop music, because Lord knows pop music can't do anything inventive without the approval of the general public.

Offline Raken Cutlancer

  • Member
  • Posts: 71
  • Karma: +0/-0
Ask a Geek! (Music or Science)
« Reply #3 on: 09/23/10 05:20:16 »
I've heard plenty of pop singers extend beyond 3 notes or go over an octave in songs.  It's just that the song structure of pop music is based on simplicity, because complex melodies and arrangements are harder to understand and remember.  And when people have a hard time remembering your songs, you're not going to sell 500,000 records to the teenage girl demographic...

Offline Lana Saeran

  • Member
  • Posts: 20
  • Karma: +0/-0
Ask a Geek! (Music or Science)
« Reply #4 on: 09/25/10 12:10:31 »
Like I said. If everyone can sing it, it's more likely to stay in everyone's heads.