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Has Music Evolution Become Stagnant?


Stairway to Heaven Tab Studier
Aug 12, 2022
Holly was letting me listen to a song called String Of Pearls from Glenn Miller in 1944. Not even 20 years later, The Beatles rocked the hell out of the world with Please Please Me.

Not even a decade later, Black Sabbath became the fathers of heavy metal.

So in less than 3 decades, we went from peppy jazz with blistering sax work and soft brushes on the snare drums to doom and drudge cries of War Pigs.

Every decade since, we've seen an evolution or a change. I was around enough to see grunge obliterate 80s metal, then pop punk and bubblegum pop takeover grunge with the era of both boy bands and string sections taking over country music.

But I have to say, I feel like music has stayed pretty much the same since 2005. For almost 2 decades I feel I've heard songs I've already heard before. Nothing really seems to have changed. The only thing I've truly noticed is the addition of synthetic drums dominating the forefront along with samples.

What genre do you think is the defining genre of the 20s? What do you hear as a defining signature 2020's sound?


Local Dive Bar Favorite
Apr 16, 2022
I agree music has just stopped changing. The best thing we got in the last 20 years is Attack Attack and My Chemical Romance taking over and going into bands like Asking Alexandria and the Red jumpsuit Apparatus. I did hear something about a band called Electric Callboy which I believe are changing some stuff but yeah you are right. I have hopes for the future though, history repeats itself, it always has and it will again.
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Daniel Sims

Music Theory Bragger
Nov 11, 2019
Great post! I agree that music evolution has seemingly become stagnant. I think it is still evolving, but at a less noticeable rate. I've noticed a trend of modern metal bands that have gone back to their 'roots' in recent years. Take Bullet for my Valentine, Trivium, or The Amity Affliction for instance. These bands have, in recent times, released some very heavy tracks that are reminiscent of their early days. Will we continue to see this trend, or will the gradual evolution continue to a point where we can look back and clearly define this era of music? Time will tell. Perhaps this long anticipated A7X album will be just what the music world needs!
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Christian Schulze

Hot Topic Tourer
Rockstar Student
Nov 11, 2019
I totally understand the sentiment of music stagnation. I became an explore of sorts just to evade it!

Modern music really feels boring and copy paste-ish. There is only so many times I can listen to an open drop C or A string 0 000 0 000 😅

But Youtube and Spotify really helped me explore the vast sea of music. In recent memory I really fell in love with the Math rock genre, and as a poster child of it Polyphia really stands out form me. I know they get a lot of hate, but they are really innovating guitar in my opinion.

On another side another band that really stands out to me is Psychedelic Porn Crumpets. This song really took me to another plane of existence.

Finally, arguably my favorite band of all times.. Queens of the Stone Age. They evolve their sound on every album I feel, which keeps things fresh.

But yes, it is really hard to find good stuff nowadays!

Rad Synner

Sold-out Crowd Surfer
Staff member
  • Nov 11, 2019
    I would actually disagree with the fact that music in general has been stagnant. On the contrary, there has never been more music produced and published than in recent years so we are bound to have a lot of experimentation and have new genre and type of sounds come out.

    Now the question is, does the new stuff appeal to you? Which then transforms this thread in a completely different conversation. I do believe that there is new stuff being done and new genre being born from the old ones that really push forward music and sound design. Perhaps the realization is that the genre we love are just not evolving anymore. That the genre itself has been stagnant and that while there is new stuff a little bit left and right, it's just not as much of a big evolution as when we were discovering new sound with the evolution of technology.

    Let's not forget how much the evolution of music was attached to the development of new technology for instruments (electric guitar, amplifiers, fx...), hardware (mixing consoles, recording equipment, microphones...) and finally, computers. And so now, technology has just gone so far that you can do music with just a computer. It's most easier nowadays to create music without playing a single instrument which open the doors to so many new avenues. And so the sounds have evolved.

    I will dare put forward that perhaps this impression of music being stagnant is not so much about music in general but mostly about us as individuals having become stagnant in our music tastes. Because there is new genre and new music being put out there all the time.

    And again, it's all subjective to your taste. And also, it's easier to look back in time and feel like it was all better but let me remind you that time is a beautiful filter. Of course only the really great or perhaps the ''special'' ones stood the test of time while all the ''failed'' experiments faded away. And so when we look back, we are left with what was truly defining. And again, that varies on what you are exposing yourself to because we are aware of what truly defined what we love but that doesn't mean that it's the only thing that happened. There is much going on all around the world that it would be impossible to keep track of everything constantly.

    At the end of the day, it's of my opinion that music is always evolving. But perhaps your musical taste isn't going along with it and that's just something you more or less have control over. Sound in itself is very subjective and even more so when we break it all down to its most pure form.

    If i'd have my say, I would say that Kpop is defining the 20s. I don't like that genre at all but I cannot ignore the impact that it has on this generation and it would be wrong of me to just ignore it. I would even argue that the evolution they bring goes beyond the music.

    Oh well, it is what it is!

    Ed Seith

    Supreme Galactic Overlord
    Staff member
  • Nov 11, 2019
    Marana, AZ USA
    Great post idea!

    I think pop music, which is what you used to describe the evolution from the 40s to the 70s, has become increasingly stagnant. The advent of digital tracking, similar to how Netflix sees not only what show you watched, but what parts of shows were skipped over, etc, has led to a homogenization of pop music around just a handful of chord changes, especially in the choruses, and general experimentation has been relegated to outside of pop.

    Listening to a lot of 80s pop, spurred on by Mayer's Sob Rock to reminisce, I noticed just how much jazz was an influence there - some REALLY complex chords and changes and beats and tempos written to support a pop vocal. The only thing getting any real attention in pop music these days is production and recording techniques - the songs essentially write themselves.

    In metal, we do see a lot of stagnation - Shads refers to it sometimes, and we know Syn doesn't care for it either - some of those pop writing and production traps have infiltrated. What Killswitch Engage did 20+ years ago with quantizing everything for tightness has become overdone and commonplace and squeezes the life out of a lot of modern metal, hence the "throwback" stuff (which has always been a thing, if you think about it - even the 90s had some throwback hippie stuff like the Spin Doctors in there).

    Everything I've heard of K-Pop, as Radu brings up, strikes me as exactly the same - it's pop music from another country done to boy-band excess with all the same trappings of every other boy-band pop music - it's bland and generic specifically to provide the most familiar feeling to the most people possible.

    In guitar music, we do see evolution. We see it in the new crop of musicians taking over the guitar magazines - Plini, Tim and Scott from Polyphia, Tosin, Yvette, St. Vincent and a host of others. They are taking guitar to places us dinosaurs never thought of, and while I don't gravitate to it as a musician or a listener, it wasn't created for the T-rexes.

    At some point, enough people are going to tire of the horrific repetition of modern pop music and crave something ACTUALLY new, and we'll see something of a revolution then. Until then, we'll continue to get cookie-cutter divas and dudes singing the same song with some mildly innocuous new production technique taking over the pop airwaves.

    THAT change can't come soon enough!
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    Chris Johnston

    Music Theory Bragger
  • Nov 11, 2019
    North Ayrshire, Scotland
    This is an interesting discussion for sure, and I find it difficult to analyse. But I'll give my two cents, regardless of the blindspots/ignorance I probably have

    They way it looks to me is this:

    Like any form of art, Music will have a certain range of colours and techniques available to use at any given time in it's history - common sense dictates that the further you go back, the less tools you find available and the less creative/sonic space covered, due to lack of those tools.
    So when a new technique makes an appearance, it's ofcourse going to be a drastic, noticeable shift in the landscape.

    I feel like what's happening now is that we've been spectators of a massive technological/Musical/Creative acceleration and we're seeing the results of that technological abundance playing out in new music - even in Metal, tech sounds are becoming more normalised - it's Metal's way of evolving Into a new space.

    I feel like, weirdly, the view of stagnation and dissatisfaction with new music comes from the fact that when creators have the ability to create everything, everything will be created, and when listeners have the ability to listen to almost everything , everything will be heard - I feel like that's where we are musically due to the internet/technology. It's more of an observation that a criticism.

    We're at a point in time where we can look up anything we need, and hear anything we imagine in seconds - it's harder to make an impression on a consumer who's seen and heard everything etc.

    In a nutshell, it's much harder to be different now, and it's much harder to impress people/keep their attention 👌

    As far as a defining genre of the 20's - 'the internet' 😂

    (I am open to education on this subject though!)
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    William B.

    Hot Topic Tourer
  • Nov 11, 2019
    I haven't been listening to much newer music lately, mostly dance or older music.
    Somewhat self absorbed that I can play better and tuned out for some reason.

    What if all the musicians gather at the mountain like Captain Planet, debate why what's great and collaborate.

    Having trouble conversing.

    I found this;

    drone, French bourdon, in music, a sustained tone, usually rather low in pitch, providing a sonorous foundation for a melody or melodies sounding at a higher pitch level.

    maybe not relevant, read some about the Baritone guitar
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    One Stringer
    Feb 19, 2023
    Chicago to Florida
    Disagree that music isn't changing. We see things at such a small scale that 5 years, 10, 25, 50 years seem like extremely long chunks of time. Those are truly just blinks of the eye. There's never been a time with more varied genres, abilities, technologies etc. Music has evolved more over the past 50 years than it ever has in the same length of time. To think guitar playing as we know it has only existed for no more than the last couple of generations is almost incomprehensible on the grand scale of time
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    Awex Came

    Campfire Attention Holder
    May 23, 2021
    I'd say it's mostly just rock music staying the same, or I guess I should say staying most similar. There's a lot of fresh underground stuff. Also, anything that's "groundbreaking" or "fresh" is generally shunned when it's new and then celebrated 10 years or more after the fact (Finn McKenty did a video on that recently, watch here).

    Songs are getting shorter because of attention spans and it helps to get more streams. Typical song structures are being redefined. Artists like Jeris Johnson are sorta considered rock now, which is a big change that's being resisted. Genres are blending more and more. Sections of songs are having more dramatic changes to keep attention. Music is being made with Tik Tok in mind.

    SZA's new album S.O.S. is one of the best albums I heard in a while and the way it blends R&B, hip hop, jazz, rock, singer songwriter, alternative, etc. is amazing. The way Bad Omens record Death of Peace of Mind blends Metalcore, alternative, R&B, and pop is great too.

    For better or worse, it's definitely not being stagnant. We're still early in the 2020's and also navigating a completely new and constantly evolving music business, so it's hard to say how it will be defined. In my opinion, we hardly ever realize what it is while we're in the middle of it.
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