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March 2017 MIMM Journal Club

When Mar 10, 2017
from 12:30 PM to 01:30 PM
Where McMaster University, Psychology Building, Room 204
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The next meeting will be held on Friday, March 10th, 2017 at 12:30pm in Room 204 of the Psychology Building at McMaster University!
Dr. Matthew Woolhouse's graduate student, Michael Barone, will lead a discussion on the article by Mauch et al., 2015 entitled "The evolution of popular music: USA 1960-2010". Abstract listed below.   

For those of you who are new:

The McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind hosts a monthly Seminar/Journal Club. The purpose of the club is for MIMM members and other interested people from different areas to meet to discuss recent papers of broad interest in the field of music cognition. Everyone is welcome! Our current journal club members include psychologists, musicians, mathematicians, engineers, music teachers, graduate and undergraduate students, and interested community members.

Mauch, M., MacCallum, R. M., Levy, M., & Leroi, A. M. (2015). The evolution of popular music: USA 1960–2010. Royal Society Open Science, 2(5), 150081.


In modern societies, cultural change seems ceaseless. The flux of fashion is especially obvious for popular music. While much has been written about the origin and evolution of pop, most claims about its history are anecdotal rather than scientific in nature. To rectify this, we investigate the US Billboard Hot 100 between 1960 and 2010. Using music information retrieval and text-mining tools, we analyse the musical properties of approximately 17 000 recordings that appeared in the charts and demonstrate quantitative trends in their harmonic and timbral properties. We then use these properties to produce an audio-based classification of musical styles and study the evolution of musical diversity and disparity, testing, and rejecting, several classical theories of cultural change. Finally, we investigate whether pop musical evolution has been gradual or punctuated. We show that, although pop music has evolved continuously, it did so with particular rapidity during three stylistic ‘revolutions’ around 1964, 1983 and 1991. We conclude by discussing how our study points the way to a quantitative science of cultural change.

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Susan Marsh-Rollo
Auditory Development Lab Manager
Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour

McMaster University
1280 Main Street West
Hamilton, Ontario, L8S 4L8