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Billboard

March 7, 2006

For those of you who say ‘I wouldn’t listen to pop music even if you ran it through spectral averaging and played every Billboard #1 in choronological order covering the last 40 years’, I bring you R. Luke DuBois’ Billboard Project.

Billboard allows you to get a birds-eye view of the Billboard Hot 100 by listening to all the #1 singles from 1958 through the millenium using a technique I’ve been working on for a couple of years called time-lapse phonography. The 857 songs used to make the piece are analyzed digitally and a spectral average is then derived from the entire song. Just as a long camera exposure will fuse motion into a single image, spectral averaging allows us to look at the average sonority of a piece of music, however long, giving a sort of average timbre of a piece. This gives us a sense of the average key and register of the song, as well as some clues about the production values present at the time the record was made; for example, the improvements in home stereo equipment over the past fifty years, as well as the gradual replacement of (relatively low-fidelity) AM radio with FM broadcasting has had an impact on how records are mixed… drums and bass lines gradually become louder as you approach the present, increasing the amount of spectral noise and low tones in our averages.

It’s quite lovely.
File under: it’s been in my Del.icio.us page for so long, I don’t remeber who turned me on to it or where I found it.

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One comment

  1. I’m going to go ahead & call that “totally fucking cool”.–>



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