[“The Key To Music” is a research project lead by Robert Fontana on the musical formulas that have made up the industry’s pop trends throughout these past decades.]
You Are What You Listen
Back when I was in grade school, I remember my teacher made us read Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech out loud. In the most monotone of voices, we each took turns utterly ripping out the heartfelt sincerity in which it was originally delivered. It made me realize how important inflection played a part in communicating to the masses.
Just like there might be certain inflections that rally a group the best, or certain articulations that inspire people more, or particular words that arouse the most interest and passion, I wondered if it translated to music. Could certain notes, melodies, chords, progressions or keys be better at appealing to the masses than others?
Some say there are frequencies that can repair DNA:
Some say certain music can make you smarter:
Some say certain music shapes you. I quote Aristotle…mostly because if you want to sound intelligent, he’s one of the guys to make that happen:
“Emotions of any kind are produced by melody and rhythm; therefore by music a man becomes accustomed to feeling the right emotions; music has thus the power to form character, and the various kinds of music based on the various modes, may be distinguished by their effects on character—one, for example, working in the direction of melancholy, another of effeminacy; one encouraging abandonment, another self-control, another enthusiasm, and so on through the series.”
As I worked on analyzing the keys of the project, I not only thought about these trends that are affecting us, but also how we are affecting the music…and most importantly, how we are so connected to it all. These keys and songs are a reflection of who we are as people.
Life is like music.A generation is an opus. A decade is a box set. A year is an album. A month is an EP. A week is a single. A day is a song. An hour is a chorus. A minute is a phrase. A second is a note.
Each day, you get a chance to write a song, so to speak. All we have are the things we say and the things we do. It seems like an easy thing to do: to control these 2 things. But any fool could even tell you it’s not. Sometimes a horribly placed note can ruin a song. But we try to learn from those mistakes. We try to become prolific composers in our own world. We learn how to arrange those notes into coherent phrases. The most memorable part of your day is the chorus. Maybe one hour in your life changed a person’s life or your own. Besides, these are the hooks that shape us.
At the end of the day, you’ve finished your song. Maybe your pet ran away or your car finally quit on you or your girlfriend left you. Yep, you wrote a country song. Maybe you sat around and wasted the day with a bunch of your old college buddies. Yep, you wrote a psychedelic jam song. Maybe you went home with 3 babes in one night and then rode a motorcycle into a fountain. Yep, you wrote a rock song. Maybe you got caught looking at the wiener of the guy who was peeing next to you in the bathroom. Yup, you just covered George Michael. You get the point.
The notes can pass by so quickly. Sometimes there are others that create great harmony with you…sometimes they create dissonance. Hopefully, they always resolve. Take time to notice these notes. Listen to other people’s music. You’re not a one-hit wonder. The analogies can go on forever. I guess this is an aspect I’ve always been attracted to about music. It’s a philosophy I can understand. We all emit these vibrations, like in the song “Good Vibrations” – no, not by The Beach Boys. I mean Marky Mark’s #1 from 1991. He says, “Yeah. Can you feel it, baby? I can, too.” Ha-ha, no, I’m just kidding! No, but really, later in the song, he says, “Making you feel the rhythm is my occupation. So feel the vibration.” That’s what I’m talking about…I think.
Results so far from 2000-present (week of May 30, 3009) – 7 months left in decade
139 keys were identified from the 124 songs of the 00’s
Could be the least number of keys and songs of any decade
Last decade’s trend of songs staying at #1 for longer periods of time continued
I will be posting one last entry on the total results of all the decades and some final thoughts on the matter. I will also be creating a website for the project, which will include every #1 song from 1955-present, their keys, stats, charts, a Predicto-Key which will forecast the key of the next #1, and a forum for discussion. I will be sure to let out a mruff on here once it’s up and running.