Apple Music and Spotify are the two biggest music platforms in the music streaming space. Apple Music has a library of over 50 million songs while Spotify’s subscribers have access to over 35 million songs. With so many songs already made, will we ever run out of new tunes?
First, we have to ask if music is only a matter of different melodic combinations? Is there enough variety in lyrics? Let’s take a look at what contributes to the making of new songs.
Number of melodies and progressions
If we look at the creation of tunes by calculating the possible melodies we can create within an octave with all the different intervals and tempos we know of, the number is extremely big and is made up of about 36 digits. But this is a finite number.
Including non-Western scales and patterns into the equation, we could widen the number of possibilities. But that total would still be finite. Does this mean we are running out of music?
Lyrics and Meters
Lyrics follow poetic meter, which is found in poems by Oscar Wilde, Emily Dickinson or William Woodsworth. The common meter alternates iambic tetrameters to iambic trimeters. In each line, a foot contains an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. Many popular songs such as Amazing Grace and The House of the Rising Sun follow this meter.
From the metrical point of view, musicians will still be finding recurring patterns in writing lyrics.
Are we running out of new music?
It may seem to be true that we could run out of new tunes with the finite number of melodies we can create and the recurring pattern of lyrical meter we will run into. But to create new songs, we must also take into account our tastes, culture, and emotions. It doesn’t matter if we mathematically run out of new music at some point because the truth is, we can be so used to specific music patterns we are unable to discover new sounds. We could be happy with the combinations of melodies we have and the meters we have explored so far to be unable to break through.
According to mathematician Marcus du Sautoy, there is still a universe of possibilities left for composers to explore. Du Sautoy said there is an even greater range of possibilities when it comes to composing melodies than writing sentences.
Musical parameters are not confined to the notes of whichever scale is used because there are rhythmic articulation, precise tuning, loudness, and timbre involved. So, breathe a sigh of relief as there are still countless tunes waiting to be discovered.
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