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Selling Sounds (Epilogue)

EPILOGUE

As I discuss in the epilogue, in 1997 the musician Dave Soldier, in collaboration with artists Komar and Melamid, released The People’s Choice Music, a two-song CD based on responses to a survey on musical preferences. “The Most Wanted Song,” according to the group’s data analysis, would be “liked” by 72 ± 12% of listeners.

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The idea of writing a song to conform to people’s anticiaped preferences is in fact how the music industry has worked since the era of Tin Pan Alley. By contrast, Soldier paired it with “The Most Unwanted Song,” which he summarized thus:

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 commericals and elevator music.

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(Courtesy of ubuweb)

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