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Musical Miscellaneous

Popular songs in America have gotten sadder since the mid-1960s.

Saw this in the Wall Street Journal, 8 June 2012. Here's a copy/paste from

As measured by key and tempo—and setting lyrics aside—pop music has gotten gloomier since the mid-1960s, two researchers report.

They analyzed the top 40 songs from the Billboard year-end "Hot 100" chart for selected years from 1965 to 2009, assessing whether each hit was written in a major or minor key, and taking note of its tempo and duration. Songs in a minor key tend to be associated with sadder emotions, as do slower songs. (When songs mixed major and minor modes, the song was classified according to the longer-lasting mode; when they varied in tempo, the beats-per-minute of different sections were averaged.)

Over time, the most striking change had to do with key: In the 1965-69 period, 85% of hits were written in a major key, but that proportion had fallen to 42.5% by 2005-09. Songs also dropped to 100 beats per minute in 2005-09 from 116 beats in 1965-69. The authors found signs that pop music was growing more emotionally ambiguous: Major-key ("happy") songs, for example, slowed down more than minor-key songs.

"Emotional Cues in American Popular Music: Five Decades of the Top 40," E. Glenn Schaellenberg and Christian von Scheve, Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts (forthcoming)



Stuart Sharp and the symphony he heard from heaven ... that he had to write.

I extracted this (with Audacity) from a Snap Judgment podcast. It's linked to here.

An article about the story from a reputable source is here.

  The rationalist in me says this didn't happen. But no one has yet, to my knowledge, come out and said it's all BS either.
   I do know the power of music is amazing, but never imagined it as strong as this.



"How well can you hear audio quality?"

This NPR article gives us a chance to hear the same segment of a song, recorded in three ways, from worst to middle to best audio quality.

We hear the segment, then decide which of the three recordings sounds best.

We get six musical selections to test our hearing.


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