The role of musical influence has long been debated by scholars and critics in the humanities, but never in a data-driven way. In this work we approach the question of influence by applying topic-modeling tools (Blei & Lafferty, 2006; Gerrish & Blei, 2010) to a dataset of 24941 songs by 9222 artists, from the years 1922 to 2010. We find the models to be significantly correlated with a human-curated influence measure, and to clearly outperform a baseline method. Further using the learned model to study properties of influence, we find that musical influenceandmusicalinnovationarenotmonotonically correlated. However, we do find that the most influential songs were more innovativeduringtwotimeperiods: theearly1970’s and the mid 1990’s. 1
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