Friday, October 19, 2007

People's Choice Music

Komar and Melamid along with Dave Soldier conducted a study in 1995 or 1996 that determined:

"The most unwanted music is over 25 minutes long, veers wildly between loud and quiet sections, between fast and slow tempos, and features timbres of extremely high and low pitch, with each dichotomy presented in abrupt transition.

The most unwanted orchestra was determined to be large, and features the accordion and bagpipe (which tie at 13% as the most unwanted instrument), banjo, flute, tuba, harp, organ, synthesizer (the only instrument that appears in both the most wanted and most unwanted ensembles). An operatic soprano raps and sings atonal music, advertising jingles, political slogans, and 'elevator' music, and a children's choir sings jingles and holiday songs. The most unwanted subjects for lyrics are cowboys and holidays, and the most unwanted listening circumstances are involuntary exposure to commercials and elevator music."

Soldier and lyricist Nina Mankin actually went on to compose two pieces of music based on the survey results. I've listened to them and, ironically, the "Most Wanted Music" is so ingratiating that it's too painful to hear more than once, while the "Most Unwanted Music" is wonderfully stimulating and quite funny.

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