May 20, 2008

Tips for Aspiring Songwriters

In the 90's, a couple of Russian conceptual artists hired a market research firm to find out what sort of music people find annoying. After a poll of 500 people, here's what they came up with: "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. 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. Fewer than 200 individuals of the world's total population would enjoy this piece." (click to listen) The Most Unwanted Music Not bad. Reminds me of early Residents, maybe even a little like Os Mutantes. It's entertaining, charming, filled with unexpected twists and turns, and has some nice instrumentation. It's also funny. I had to laugh out loud when it got to the children shouting in unison, "Do All Your Shopping! At Wal-Mart!" It's music, I suppose, but it's also something more. It's intriguing and provocative. In a word, it's art. And now, the same folks have used that same poll to produce the most wanted piece of music: “The most favored ensemble, determined from a rating by participants of their favorite instruments in combination, comprises a moderately sized group (three to ten instruments) consisting of guitar, piano, saxophone, bass, drums, violin, cello, synthesizer, with low male and female vocals singing in rock/r&b style. The favorite lyrics narrate a love story, and the favorite listening circumstance is at home. The only feature in lyric subjects that occurs in both most wanted and unwanted categories is “intellectual stimulation.' Most participants desire music of moderate duration (approximately 5 minutes), moderate pitch range, moderate tempo, and moderate to loud volume…” (click to listen) The Most Wanted Music Just trying to be helpful, for those of you who want to make it in the record industry.

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