An analysis of country music trends utilizing mathematical matrix theory
MetadataShow full item record
Type of Work68 pages
DepartmentMathematics and Computer Science
SubjectsCountry music -- History and criticism
Country music -- Analysis
Mathematical matrix theory
During the past four years, many music critics and artists have alleged that country music is becoming more homogeneous, with similar chord progressions and lyrics. The aim of our thesis was to determine whether country songs really have begun to sound the same. To avoid selection bias, we only analyzed songs that won a Grammy every three years, from 1977 to 2016. We plotted the chord progression from each of these songs' chorus into a pair of transition matrices, one of which tracks how often one chord followed another, and the other of which tracks how often one interval on the chromatic scale followed another. We then used MatLab to perform linear algebra operations on the matrices to determine how similar or dissimilar each song's chorus was to its chronological neighbors. Contrary to our expectations, our findings suggested a negative correlation between independent music market share and country music similarity, prompting us to expand our data set to also include annual chart topping songs. Despite this we were unable to find any more significant trends in our results. There were a number of factors to consider when interpreting our research results, most importantly the constraints of the data. The extent of these constraints, such as what part of a song we were looking at or how far apart each pair of songs were written, and the affect they may have had on our results, may necessitate further research into this subject in the future.