Fishing for Hooks: An Empirical Approach to Understanding Long-Term Musical Salience
What makes music ‘catchy’? Most of us feel that we know the ‘hook’ in a piece of music when we hear it – but most of us are equally at loss to explain exactly why. This talk will introduce an ongoing study of musical catchiness from the perspective of music cognition. It will begin with an an introduction to some musicological theories of musical catchiness, most of which have never been tested empirically. It will go on to describe the design of a novel experiment that will test some of these theories: a name-that-tune game for iOS and Android devices that we hope will generate the largest database available to date for studying this question. The game is currently being piloted, and after a brief discussion of how to analyse data from such an experiment and some preliminary results from the pilot, members of the audience will be invited to try the game themselves.
John Ashley Burgoyne is a postdoctoral researcher in the Music Cognition Group at the University of Amsterdam and a guest researcher in Research and Development at the Dutch Institute for Sound and Vision. In 2012, he received his doctorate from McGill University with a thesis entitled ‘Stochastic Processes and Database-Driven Musicology’. He now works on the NWO-CATCH project ‘Cognition-Guided Interoperability Between Collections of Musical Heritage (COGITCH)’, a collaboration among the University of Amsterdam, Utrecht University, the Dutch Institute for Sound and Vision, and the Meertens Institute. He also recently developed a new course at the University of Amsterdam introducing quantitative methodologies to master’s students in musicology. Trained in musicology and in machine learning, Ashley is especially interested in ‘musicometrics’: trying to find statistical models that are conceptually sound and musicologically interpretable as music enters the digital humanities era. In his spare time – and when he is not in Dutch class! – Ashley is often looking for choirs who are looking for tenors.