Wednesday, January 18, 2017

So, I'm Running a Sort of Experiment . . .

Recently, my wife ran across an article online about a formula for the best "feel good" song and forwarded it to me. It turned out to be legitimate. Dr. Jacob Jolij, a Dutch professor of cognitive psychology and neuroscience at the University of Groningen, had received a commission from Alba, a British electronics company, to develop the formula based on a survey the company had done to determine the top all-time "feel good" songs. Professor Jolij analyzed various aspects of the top vote getters and determined the main musical elements common to all of them. He followed this up later by developing a "feel good song" scale, where people can define how good a song makes them feel on a scale of 1 to 100. Based on this, the professor developed a formula, which he lists on his blog.

Dr. Jolij's formula boils the typical "feel good" song down to the following elements:
  1. A fast tempo (between 140 and 150 beats per minute (bpm) seems best)
  2. A major key
  3. Relatively complicated chord changes (more than 3 chords, unless the key is major)
  4. Positive or nonsense lyrics
A prime example of this is Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now." It has a fast tempo, major key, and a happy, whimsical lyric ("That's why they call me Mr. Fahrenheit/I'm traveling at the speed of light").

So, in the "feel good" spirit of the moment, I decided that I would try to apply these principles of a "feel good" song to stock music. Last night I created and mixed an instrumental track I call "Driving Uplifting Rock." The track incorporates three of the four elements in Dr. Jolij's formula: it's 148 bpm, in C Major, and has more than 3 chords. It is somewhat repetitive, but attempts to hold interest through slight variations in instrumentation and building to a climax as it goes.

I've uploaded the track and am waiting on the curation review process. Depending on where (and if) it receives approval, I'm curious to see if the reaction to this track is different that my other work. Of course, this is not scientific at all. There are certain variables for which I simply can't account. For example, stock music sites are search-driven, so success is determined not only by the quality or style of music but also whether people are able to find it based on searches on common keywords, like "corporate," "ambient" or "cinematic" (and that's why this blog is titled the way it is!).

If nothing else, though, this little experiment has given me something else to think about in developing stock music I hope you'll find useful in your media project. Please stay tuned, and I'll try to keep you updated on the progress of this little "experiment."

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