Damien on… The Death Of Popular Music Composition
…which started in November 1970 and became complete around a decade ago.
Its demise began when George Harrison released “My Sweet Lord” and an ailing music publisher who owned the rights to “He’s So Fine” SUED him for PLAGIARISM.
In fact, George’s composition had been inspired by his friend Edwin Hawkins’ “Oh Happy Day” – which in turn was based on an C18th hymn and was thus public domain.
However, after five years, the case finally got settled – AGAINST Harrison. The ironically-named “Bright Music” was awarded MASSIVE damages.
The result of this industry-rocking decision was that computer programmes were developed that would identify potential copyright problems before they arose.
At which point, composers discovered that with popular songs having been churned out at a dizzying rate since the immediate post-WW1 period, to satisfy the demand from music radio, stage musicals, the cinema, television and dance halls (and the recording industry that fed off them) plus countless hours of themes and incidental music for shows, films and programmes – ALL of the logical progressions of notes in the standard musical octave had now been USED.
Thus around 1980, new memorable melodies became reduced from a torrent to a dribble.
So while the Eighties experienced a stream (if you will forgive yet another liquid analogy) of popular hits, they were driven, for the first time, not by melodies – but by complex chord-changes and new high-tech production equipment which produced sounds that rivalled those of the Sixties.
And then came the CD.
Its convenience and durability were undeniable, but the big record companies – who had had a tough time during the Seventies, thanks to the independent record companies who had stepped in when they had lost the plot – used the new medium to wreak HAVOC on popular music.
Keeping prices artificially high, they re-released their entire back-catalogues on the format, IGNORING new music. Then they squeezed out vinyl, which FINISHED the process.
After which the only innovative music was Vocal Trance. It SHOULD have dominated Nineties Pop, but with vinyl now the domain of the specialist Dance market, it became a niche genre. But it WAS the Pop of the Nineties and while its melodies were short and repeated, they represented the LAST ever composed.
And following that period, the last ten years have featured material totally DEVOID of melody, with no identifiable style or content, which has resulted in the collapse of the record industry – along with the music radio industry which fed on that. Even TOTP has folded.
So today’s musicians perform LIVE, eschewing record contracts – their music being uploaded to THIS medium.
But said music rarely rises above the mediocre, since those DAMNED computer programmes are still waiting for any composer who DARES to attempt writing something MEMORABLE…