Reality TV Music Comes of Age
The wide distribution of music-making computer software has created opportunities for a whole new generation of composers who never learned the "rules" of music, and who, as a result, have created cool new genres and styles of music that break all the rules but still sound great. For instance, let's talk about the soundtracks for reality TV.
Most pop songs are built like a three-layer cake: the bottom layer is the drum beat and the bass line, the middle layer fills out the harmonic structure with guitars and keyboards, and the top layer is usually the vocal, or for instrumental music, the strings or other melody instrument.
Not so with a lot of reality TV music. Most tracks start with a beat and a bass line, but then they dispense with the middle harmonic layer completely and go straight to the melody instruments - usually strings, usually agitated, usually overly dramatic.
The juxtaposition of a low-fidelity hip-hop drum beat and a symphonic string section is not something that probably would have occurred to Aaron Copland or Leonard Bernstein, but it certainly works for reality TV. The hip-hop beat conveys current hip culture, while the strings convey the overly dramatic emotions being expressed.
The genre is evolving, of course, as is reality TV. Today's soundtracks cover the whole spectrum of dramatic musical styles, and competition and high production values are making for some really incredible new music.