I Got The Feelin’

August 27, 2017
By

(This article was originally published at Statistics – Freakonometrics, and syndicated at StatsBlogs.)

Last week, I’ve been going through my CD collection, trying to find records I haven’t been listing for a while. And I got the feeling that music I listen to nowadays is slower than the one I was listening to in my 20’s. I was wondering if that was an age issue, or it was simply the fact that music in the 90s was “faster” than the one released in 2015. So I tried to scrap the BPM database to get a more appropriate answer about this “feeling” I have. I did extract two information: the BPM (beat per minute) and the year (of release).

Here is a function to extract information from the website,

> library(XML)
> extractbpm = function(VBP,P){
+ url=paste("https://www.bpmdatabase.com/music/search/?artist=&title=&bpm=",VBP,"&genre=&page=",P,sep="")
+ download.file(url,destfile = "page.html")
+ tables=readHTMLTable("page.html")
+ return(tables)}

For instance

> extractbpm(115,13)
$`track-table`
Artist Title
1 Eros Ramazzotti y Claudio Guidetti Dimelo A Mi
2 Everclear Volvo Driving Soccer Mom
3 Evils Toy Dear God
4 Expose In Walked Love
5 Fabolous ft. 2 Chainz When I Feel Like It
6 Fabolous ft. 2 Chainz When I Feel Like It
7 Fabolous ft. 2 Chainz When I Feel Like It
8 Fanny Lu Fanfarron
9 Featurecast Ain't My Style
10 Fem 2 Fem Obsession
11 Fernando Villalona Mi Delito
12 Fever Ray Triangle Walks
13 Firstlove Freaky
14 Fito Blanko Pegadito Suavecito
15 Flechazo Del Norte Mariposa Traicionera
16 Fluke Switch/Twitch
17 Flyleaf Something Better
18 FM Static The Next Big Thing
19 Fonseca Eres Mi Sueno
20 Fonseca ft. Maffio & Nayer Eres Mi Sueno
21 Francesca Battistelli Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
22 Frankie Ballard Young & Crazy
23 Frankie J. More Than Words
24 Frank Sinatra The Hucklebuck
25 Franz Ferdinand The Dark Of The Matinée
Mix BPM Genre Label Year
1 — 115 — Sony 2009
2 — 115 — Capitol Records 2003
3 — 115 — — —
4 — 115 — Arista Records 1994
5 Explicit 115 Urban Def Jam/Island Def Jam 2013
6 — 115 Urban Def Jam/Island Def Jam 2013
7 Radio Edit 115 Urban Def Jam/Island Def Jam 2013
8 — 115 Latin Pop Universal Latino 2011
9 Psychemagik Dub 115 — Jalapeno 2012
10 — 115 — Critique Records 1993
11 — 115 — Mt&vi Records/caminante Records 2001
12 Rex The Dog Remix 115 — Little Idiot/Mute 2012
13 — 115 — Jwp Music 2000
14 — 115 Merengue Mambo Crown Loyalty 2012
15 — 115 — Hacienda 2010
16 Album Version 115 — One Little Indian Records 2004
17 — 115 Alternative A&M/Octone 2013
18 — 115 — Tooth & Nail Records 2007
19 — 115 Merengue Mambo 10 2012
20 Urban Version 115 — 10 2012
21 — 115 — Word/Fervent/Warner Bros 2009
22 — 115 Country Warner Bros 2015
23 Mynt Rocks Radio Edit 115 — Columbia 2005
24 — 115 Jazz Columbia 1950
25 — 115 New Wave — 2004

We have here one of the few old songs, a 1950 tune by Frank Sinatra. If we scrap the website, with a simple loop (where the bpm is from 40 to 200). Start with

BASE=NULL
> vbp=40
> p=1

and then, a loop based on

> while(vbp<=2017){
+ F=extractbmp(vbp,p)
+ if(length(F)==1){
+ BASE=rbind(BASE,F[[1]][,c("Artist","Title","BPM","Year")])
+ p=p+1}
+ if(length(F)==0){
+ vbp=vbp+1
+ p=1}}

Then we should clean the dataset

BASE=BASE[-duplicated(BASE),]
BASE=BASE[-which(BASE$Year=="—"),]
BASE$y=as.numeric(as.character(BASE$Year))
BASE$bpm=as.numeric(as.character(BASE$BPM))
BASE=BASE[BASE$y>=1940,]

and we end up with almost 50,000 tunes.

boxplot(BASE$bpm~as.factor(BASE$y),
col="light blue")

Over the past 20 years, it looks like speed of tunes has declined (let us forget tunes of 2017, clearly we have a problem here…)

library(mgcv)
plot(BASE$y,BASE$bpm)
reg=gam(bpm~s(y),data=BASE)
B=data.frame(y=1950:2017)
p=predict(reg,newdata=B)
lines(B$y,p,lwd=3,col="red")

which is confirmed with a (smoothed) regression

p2=predict(reg,newdata=B,se.fit=TRUE)
plot(B$y,p2$fit,lwd=3,col="red",type="l",ylim=c(90,140))
lines(B$y,p2$fit+p2$se.fit)
lines(B$y,p2$fit-p2$se.fit)

even when incorporating the confidence band. Bumps are probably related to smoothing parameters, but indeed, it looks like the average speed of music tune has decreased, from 110-115 in the 90’s to less than 100 nowadays. Now to be honest, I would love to have access to personal information from itunes, deezer or spotify, to get a better understanding (eg when in the week, in the day, do we like to listen to faster music for instance). But so far, I could not have access to such data. Too bad…



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