I've been wanting to post this for a while. The title is blasphemy to some I know. It's stunning really. When you compare one popular Youtube video of River Flows in You in terms of views to practically all of Brahms, Schumanns and Liszt's video views put together there is an obvious conclusion that many have come to: most of the world is stupid and have an adolescent sense of music. Many people on this forum are very open however and don't seem to be confined to such elitist thoughts
I believe that music at its core when it was started thousands of years ago was precisely a form of expression, a form to express emotion. There is something that many of us miss when we hear such a song like River Flows in You. Of course its not as grand as a Tchaikovsky piano concerto but alas it has captured many people's ear but why? Let's have a look shall we...
After a 4-measure intro, the theme is presented. The theme is played over a 2-measure repeated bass, consisting of f# minor, D major, A major, and E major, for about 20 times repeating the same 8 chords over and over. In other words, Yiruma employs an extremely simple harmony scheme.
The piece has an ostinato bass, lack of variety in dynamics and uses hardly any modality at all. There are no sudden changes to catch the listener off guard. Yiruma uses no dissonance. There is no raised leading tone, and in fact no seventh in the E major chords. In fact, there are no accidentals in the entire piece! So why oh why does this piece capture and garner so much attention?
This is a serious question but a not new one. Beethoven complained that he wrote much better works than his C# minor sonata and was upset that so many gave that one so much attention. Rachmaninoff grew sick and tired of playing his own prelude in C# minor as the crowd would relentlessly scream for encores. And yet we know that many pieces seem capture the attention of so many. And after listening to these pieces I think I have the answer. One word: Melody
Yes great composers use fantastic melodies all the time but some are so inexplicably connected to emotion that it boggles the mind and yet there it is. Many composers compose with a mathematical precision of a laser beam but melody... pure melody comes from feelings within.
So my question is: Why do you believe so many have people are drawn to this song? This one song alone easily has over 100 million views.
I don't believe the answer is that they are simple and easy to listen to. Many songs fit that description and fade away in to the abyss.