Can the Birth date of Rock ’N’ Roll be ratified? Big Data meets music science

A team of computer scientists and evolutionary biologists have driven new insights from the music industry through using “Big Data” The scientists from Queen Mary University and Imperial College London have analysed and assessed tens of thousands of pop songs from over the last 50 years. As part of the analysis they had to process all the audio files to extract key information about genres, harmonic qualities, timbres; they studied trends in style, diversity in the charts, and more.

The paper can be found here

Key outcomes of the analysis identified three major revolutions in pop music over the last 50 years:

  • 1964 (associated with Vietnam-war disillusionment and the invasion of British Bands – The Beatles, The Stones, et al.),
  • 1983 (driven by new synthesiser technology), and
  • 1991 (when rap and hip-hop went mainstream);

Surprisingly, for someone of my genre the third revolution (i.e. the rap and hip-hop one) was seen as the most influential, Another key finding was the providing a quantitative response to the “urban myth” that music is sounding more and more the same. There findings shows that diversity in the charts today is no different from fifty years ago !

I am sure that this research will be the first of many to elaborate. For me though the aspiration to use music back to at least the 1940s has to be a must. If only to see whether 1955 was the birth date of Rock ‘n’ Roll!