What's with the idea that contemporary hip hop and pop lack melody?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by lc1995, May 12, 2019.

  1. mr.datsun

    mr.datsun Incompletist

    Location:
    London
    What sort of questions?
     
  2. HotelYorba101

    HotelYorba101 Forum Resident

    Location:
    California
    My own perspective on this whole thread and debate - anyone is free to like or not like anything for whatever reason, for sure. However personally speaking, I just want whatever comments, positive or negative, regarding this genre, to be informed and well educated. If a person is to bash a genre, be informed and semi-knowledgable about the genre in question

    Not to get too specifically targeted at anyone, however when you have a post that has these words verbatim in it: "Most Hip Hop songs do not have a melody." It makes me question things, because there seems to be a major disconnect between that specific person's assumptions on hip-hop, and reality.

    That is really the main crux of the issue here, I would say. Don't like hip-hop because the melodies that tend to be crafted are not presented or made in a way that caters to one's tastes? Perfectly cool, everyone has their preferences. Saying most songs in the hip-hop idiom literally do not have a melody? That is just objectively wrong, if we are going by the textbook definition of melody as defined by every music scholar
     
    Devin S and Jarleboy like this.
  3. Sear

    Sear Forum Resident

    Location:
    Tarragona (Spain)
    The stupid comments are those such as "you become your parents"
     
  4. mr.datsun

    mr.datsun Incompletist

    Location:
    London
    Assuming that it is correct to say that the music in question does not display or use strong melodic structures, I would have point out that I listen to some modern opera (Schoenberg, Ashley) that does not have melody either. It is well-recognised operatic style or compositional method . I personally have come to enjoy it, and I'm not sure what the problem is with music not having melody. Music does not have to have melody. And you either enjoy it or not. I guess the description should not be seen as a criticism in itself.
     
    Bobby Boogaloo and ParloFax like this.
  5. HotelYorba101

    HotelYorba101 Forum Resident

    Location:
    California
    However it cannot be denied there are some parallels with *some* comments regarding hip-hip from *some* people on this forum, with *some* comments an older parental or grandparental figure *might* say about the music that came after their time as well


    I mean, the very thing that happened with older folks who are diehard Perry Como fans hearing Helter Skelter for sure is the same thing that happens with (again *some*) people on this forum regarding genres they don't quite get. To me those are the real fun posts to read
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
    Jarleboy and lc1995 like this.
  6. Sear

    Sear Forum Resident

    Location:
    Tarragona (Spain)
    Anyway, what's wrong liking Perry Como instead of Little Richard

    What's wrong liking The Beatles instead of Sex Pistols


    Is this wrong or sad, to you? Something to laugh about?

    The "ha ha you become your parents, how sad " it's silly and childish
     
  7. I don't think it's that much a matter of "before/after" (though there may have been a tendency since the last decade or so, in many kinds of pop music). Blues never relied a lot on strong melody either, it seems to me.
     
  8. Sear

    Sear Forum Resident

    Location:
    Tarragona (Spain)
    I'm pushing 40, I became a parent. No, I became "my"parents. Like it was something to be ashamed of, anyway . Oh how sad Im not a teenager anymore

    In other cultures elderly is a virtue. In this stupid western world it's something to laugh about
     
    Jason Penick and wrappedinsky like this.
  9. MikeManaic61

    MikeManaic61 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Virginia
    What I find funny is that most times you seem gravitate towards Hip Hop threads and tell everyone on how much you hate it so. Why is that?
     
    RudolphS and lc1995 like this.
  10. winders

    winders Music Lover

    Location:
    San Martin, CA
    That's not how this thing works. You don't get to decide who is informed enough or educated enough to make comments.

    Technically, a melody is a series of notes with a rhythm and various pitches in a pattern. But, in reality that is not what most people are referring to when they say "melody". Melodies are more complicated than that and that is what Hip Hop usually lacks. In other words, we aren't going by textbook definitions. From Wikipedia:

    "Melodies often consist of one or more musical phrases or motifs, and are usually repeated throughout a composition in various forms. Melodies may also be described by their melodic motion or the pitches or the intervals between pitches (predominantly conjunct or disjunct or with further restrictions), pitch range, tension and release, continuity and coherence, cadence, and shape."

    That's not Hip Hop. If your reality says that it is, well, you and I live in way different realities.
     
    ParloFax likes this.
  11. Jmac1979

    Jmac1979 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Louisville, KY
    If you're pushing 40, hip hop was part of your childhood. I'm the same age as you. Hip hop has always been part of our lives so it's not like a boomer born in 1955 who were well into adulthood once rap happened.
     
    lc1995 likes this.
  12. Raunchnroll

    Raunchnroll Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle
    Its good to become your parents. It means you're growing up, becoming responsible, and valuing common sense.
     
    ParloFax, Sear and Jarleboy like this.
  13. Jmac1979

    Jmac1979 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Louisville, KY
    But the majority of dad's in their thirties I'm friends with love hip hop. Its almost becoming the new "dad rock" with all the 34-39 year old dads I know who love that music.
     
    lc1995 likes this.
  14. Sear

    Sear Forum Resident

    Location:
    Tarragona (Spain)
    Yes, you're right.
    And of course I never liked it, not even when I was a little kid
     
  15. robcar

    robcar Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denver, CO
    My major problem with a lot of current pop and popular hip hop is the lyrical perspective. Of course this is generalizing and there are a lot of exceptions, but I find narcissistic self-obsession, score-settling, and bragging to be a real turn-off, and there is a ton of that sort of thing in popular music today. Was there some of it in the pop music I grew up on? Sure, but nowhere near as much as today. Hit songs filled with self-doubt, self-loathing, social consciousness, and vulnerability, as well as just good storytelling seem to be far more rare on the ground today - songs that speak to actual human experience rather than some sort of celebrity fantasy existence. I enjoy hip hop that avoids braggadocio and is inventive musically/melodically. Unfortunately, from what I've heard, this seems to be a relatively thin slice of the overall genre.
     
    Sear likes this.
  16. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    Which is why most people are incorrect when they commonly say, "X has no melody."

    It's almost never actually the case that the piece in questions has NO melody.

    They're misusing the word; or overstating what they perceive to be a less broad and varying melody than might be the case with another piece of music by saying "no melody"; or, more often than not, I suspect they're talking about something that's not really melody at all, but the relationship between melody and harmony, or about some other element of the music they don't actually know how to talk about.

    For example, there's most definitely a melody to the vocal line in "Drip Too Hard." It's very minimal, it only involves three or for intervals. But it's fixed and repeating as a motif that runs structurally through the song and it could be played on a piano or some other instrument:



    It's a melody, plain and simple. And it is related to the harmony of what I presume is a sample underlying the song. It's narrow, it's repeated over and over with minimal variation and no b, or c or d strains or bridges or releases. But it is a melody.

    There's other hip hop maybe that doesn't have that sort of melodic content to the lead voice. "Sucker MCs" and lots of early hip hop for example. But in the case of the number the OP posted, there is a melody, however minimalist it may be.
     
  17. Bobby Boogaloo

    Bobby Boogaloo Heavy on the grease please

    Location:
    Mid Atlantic USA
    Since deep-diving into jazz I use this technique a lot when listening to other styles of music with vocals; basically asking myself if I could hear an instrument play the vocal line and most of the time I could. Did this yesterday when listening to Liquid Swords & sure enough the answer was yes. A rapper's flow is a melody most of the time. I guess some people can't hear it for whatever reason, but really their loss. :shrug:
     
  18. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    I don't know. Most early hip hop for example doesn't really have much if anything in the way of melodic content to the lead voice. "Sucker MCs," as I mentioned -- I don't think the lead voice has a melody. And even some of the rapping with a rising and falling kind of cadence, like, say the Eminem's, isn't really the same thing as a musical melody.

    Of course, over the last 100+ years in Western music, we've expanded the idea of what can function as a kind of lead voice in the linear development of music without it consisting of something that is a melody, so there's been a lot of music written without literally melodies. And a lot of rap music I think does consist of rhythmic spoken word performance sometimes in a rising-falling cadence over music without the vocal necessarily consisting of a conventional melody.

    But that three or four note repeat lead line in the vocal part of "Drip Too Hard," is a melody in the conventional sense.
     
  19. HotelYorba101

    HotelYorba101 Forum Resident

    Location:
    California
    I said none of those things, it more has to do with the specific posts that attack a genre with not understanding it at all either due to age or underexposure, just like a Granny who heard Helter Skelter for the first time would. And on a music forum, I know people can do better lol

    It is no more silly and childish than reactionary hate towards a genre not understood (not directed at anyone)
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
    Jmac1979 likes this.
  20. winders

    winders Music Lover

    Location:
    San Martin, CA
    Ah, the vocal line minimal melody. Again, not the melody people are talking about. It's a melody only in the strictest sense of the word. You are using the strictest sense ONLY because it fits your pedantic argument. At least you seem to admit there is no melody in the non-vocal aspects of the song.
     
    wrappedinsky likes this.
  21. robcar

    robcar Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denver, CO
    Kudos for a mention of Freedy Johnston (a brilliant and criminally underappreciated songwriter) in a thread about hip hop!
     
  22. HotelYorba101

    HotelYorba101 Forum Resident

    Location:
    California
    Anyone can make comments, I never said they couldn't. Whether they are comments based in truth and should be taken as valid critique, yet remains to be seen in some though. We do live in different realities, but I think that just comes down to exposure and understanding the melodic motifs when I hear them in hip-hop in general. That's cool if you don't dig it, but I can tell you that I can theretically say objectively, those elements are in hip-hop - just not in a way you want apparently and that is again, totally cool
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
  23. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    It's a melody in the sense of the word "melody," and what "melody" commonly and literally is understood to mean.

    You need to redefine melody to mean something other than what melody actually means to say this song has no melody. This song has a melody, plain and simple. In fact, the melody might be plain and simple, but it's a melody.

    There's DEFINITELY melodic and harmonic content in the non-vocal aspects of the song. Whatever that little backing part is -- if its a sample or a written loop -- has strong melodic and harmonic content which I'm sure everyone can hear unless they're tone deaf. Again, it's basically something that repeats without variation. But no one can say that it is devoid of melodic and harmonic content -- it's a conventional chordal lick. But I'm just talking about the lead line because I think when we're talking about whether or not a song has a melody we're typically talking about the lead line melody, not any counter melodies or any melodic phrases in the accompaniment to the lead voice.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
    lc1995 and HotelYorba101 like this.
  24. Bobby Boogaloo

    Bobby Boogaloo Heavy on the grease please

    Location:
    Mid Atlantic USA
    I didn't set parameters in my comment but I pretty much only listen from the late 80s to current, and consider much of those late 80s sides to be proto/developmental and so agree that they lack what came afterward. That "Golden Age" from about 93 on is when things really came together and the flows advanced to carry the individualism of the MCs - this is when I can pick up the melody.
     
    lc1995 likes this.
  25. HotelYorba101

    HotelYorba101 Forum Resident

    Location:
    California
    To be fair though, does anything else matter? It is a binary concept - either something *is* a melody or *isn't* a melody. Whether that melody is to your liking is up to you, but that example *is* a melody
     
    Freedom Rider and lc1995 like this.

Share This Page