We now live in a world where buying music on a disk from a store is officially archaic; long live the lyric CD booklets that made bedroom karaoke a reality.
Now, like most media, music can now be consumed quickly, and arguably more thoughtlessly, thanks to fast-streaming services. Composers and songwriters respond in kind with faster-paced music that makes sure every second counts.
Swedish music and hitmaker Max Martin said in an interview in 2016, “There’s less downtime. Pop music follows the evolution of society in general: Everything moves faster.”
And he means everything. To celebrate the release of a Johann Sebastian Bach box-set, titled Bach 333, the Universal-owned record labels Deutsche Grammaphon and Decca led a study into several recordings of Bach’s famous Double Violin Concerto. (The box set marks the 333rd anniversary of the genius composer’s birth).
Interestingly, the study revealed that recordings of Bach’s work have increased significantly in tempo over the past 50 years, as much as 30 percent. This means, on average, recordings have sped up by about a minute per decade – from over 15 minutes in 1978 to 12 minutes in 2016.
So it appears that the trend of faster-paced music is not affecting modern artists alone.
It’s hard to say exactly how many other classical composers have been forced to ‘up’ the tempo, though, as the study only looked into the trends surrounding Bach’s melodies.
Nicholas Kenyon, a British music scholar involved in the study, said: “We seem to prefer transparent, light, bright sound and it works with the work of many composers including Bach, Handel, and Mozart.
“It’s a basic change in taste from the rather weighty concert style of previous years towards something that is more light, airy and flexible.”
What do you think of this new trend? Should we keep going or should we turn… Bach. (I’ll show myself out now).