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Modeling Musical Influence with Topic Models

By Uri Shalit, Daphna Weinshall and Gal Chechik


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

Year: 2013
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