Metal heads, jazz purists and folkies may have more in common musically than you imagined. A new study sheds light on the shared ways in which humans perceive music.
What do we really hear when we listen to music? Researchers from Sweden’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology have attempted to close in on the answer by boiling our perception of music down to nine basic elements – or what they call “perceptual features.”
Their findings could help improve computational models that the music industry uses for predicting the individual tastes of listeners.
So-called music information retrieval (MIR) models combine audio signal processing measurements with analysis of musical elements, which are usually drawn from concepts of music theory and music perception, such as beat strength, rhythmic regularity, meter and mode. The models also include analysis of musical genre (for example, punk, dance, experimental), emotion (sad, happy, tender) and other contextual qualities.
But a big limitation arises from how consistently music is perceived by listeners with different backgrounds and varying familiarity with music, not to mention their individual biases and cultural references.