Ryan Lee

Contributing writer for The Artifice.

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    As a society, we have lost the ability to intellectually enjoy dissonant music

    Dissonance in music is an acquired taste. As society has less and less exposure to dissonance is music, our tolerance for said dissonance decreases dramatically. What led to this decrease in the general acceptance of music with occasional dissonant qualities?

    • I'm not a musician but I feel like your talking about the difference between Florence and the Machine and most pop music? That's my only reference. I think it's sad that bands like Muse are starting to mold into main stream, their newest songs instrumentals are more predictable and lyrics getting diluted. We understand people's attraction to simple beats because it reminds us of Mother's heartbeat in utero, but there's a reason all our music didn't start out that way... why? – Slaidey 5 years ago
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    • You have to be really careful about general statements like "As society has less and less exposure to dissonance..." because, depending on your perspective or sources, this is not necessarily true. For example: Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly is one of the year's best-selling records and, according to the reviews and discussions that I've read, already in contention as album of the year. There are passages throughout that album of dissonant jazz and electronica, and TPAB's success has led to increased exposure of the other artists who collaborated on it and who likewise utilize dissonance in their music (specifically: Flying Lotus, Thundercat, and Kamasi Washington). All of these facts can be searched and confirmed on Google or basically any major music outlet. If anything, I'd say that the acceptance of dissonance has increased then. You're right, dissonance is an acquired taste, but the success of big names like Kendrick Lamar who use dissonance show that there must be some acceptance. I think you have to ignore whatever's playing on public radio (since the music industry has a history of pushing certain music on those broadcasting channels) and look at multiple music scenes to get a clear idea of society's "taste." – conorsmall 5 years ago
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    • As a music junkie, I think this topic would be great to discuss. One thing I can think of is Mumford and Son's new album and sound and how people are beginning to compare them to Coldplay. I think it would be interesting to explore different bands and the genres that are considered "mainstream" and compare that to their overall success over their careers. – Samantha Brandbergh 5 years ago
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    • Social media, other technology, and our complicated, busy lives compete for the simple enjoyment of taking time to listen to good music. – JeffinAurora 5 years ago
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    • Dissonance is a pretty important quality in a lot of music, some of it pretty popular (see conorsmall's note above), and the underground noise scene is gaining traction in more visible contexts. Case-in-point: Prurient's 2015 release on well-loved metal label Profound Lore; Wolf Eye's 2015 release on Jack White's Third Man Records. Granted, these releases may appeal to more niche audiences, but dissonance definitely isn't going away. – markplasma 5 years ago
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    • One thing to consider here is also the genre of music. If you're talking about popular music, perhaps there is a decrease in dissonance. I myself study classical voice, and the more recent music is (generally) far more dissonant! You could also look at what purpose dissonance serves within music; why did dissonance occur in the first place? Usually, there's a social reason. Does the "lack" of dissonance of more popular modern music indicate that our social climate has less of a need or a desire for dissonance and what it represents? Dissonance tends to cause tension; perhaps the lack of dissonance in more mainstream music is indicative of our society's general desire to avoid things that are grating/tension-filled? I think you could do a lot with this topic. – laurakej 5 years ago
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