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What Is the Relationship Between Average Song

Length and Music Genre?

Mathematical Studies SL
Internal Assessment

Majken-Leilani Wihlstrand
Candidate number: 003086-0125
February 2016
Cape Coral High School
Teacher: Mr. Gurgal
Word Count: 1750

What is The Relationship between Average Song Length and Music Genre?
Wihlstrand, Majken- Leilani
Candidate Number: 003086-0125

Contents
What Is the Relationship Between Average Song Length and Music Genre? ......................i
Introduction ................................................................................................................................... iii
Statement of Task ......................................................................................................................... iii
Plan ................................................................................................................................................. iii
Data Collection ............................................................................................................................iv
Calculations .................................................................................................................................. v
Test .........................................................................................................................................vi

Degrees of freedom: ................................................................................................................vi


Rejection inequality: .................................................................................................................vi
calculation ............................................................................................................................... vii
Data presentation ................................................................................................................... vii

Data and test ....................................................................................................................... vii

Conclusion ................................................................................................................................... viii


Bibliography................................................................................................................................... ix

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What is The Relationship between Average Song Length and Music Genre?
Wihlstrand, Majken- Leilani
Candidate Number: 003086-0125

Introduction
The "ideal song length" for radio is vastly discussed within radio and music production and there is much
speculation around what this song length would be, song composition and structure are two of the many
aspects that are considered when producing a hit song. Have you ever thought about how the majority of
the songs on the radio are approximately 3 minutes long? Well, according to a study published on The
Morning News by Joshua Allen, the ideal song length is two minutes and 42 seconds1. Due to my interest
in music and song composition I started wondering if this was simply for pop songs on the radio, or if this
even is the average length of a pop song in general. This made me more interested in investigating the
average song length in relation to genre. My goal with this essay is to understand the relationship between
average song length and musical genre and ultimately compare the average lengths between the various
genres.

Statement of Task
The main aim of this investigation is to determine whether average song length and musical genre are
independent of each other by using data collected from top 100 lists on the music streaming website,
Spotify. I will do this by conducting the chi square ( ) test for independence on the sampled data.

Plan

Collect data by finding weekly top 100 hits of four different genres (hip-hop, pop, rock, R&B) on
the music streaming website, Spotify. I chose these genres in particular because I felt that they
would have an adequate amount of songs to sample and compare. I also wanted genres with
definite distinction from each other to be able to make an adequate comparison. I chose four of
the most widely spread genres in the music industry that were distinctly different from each other
to get the most diverse results I could. My decision to choose the top weekly 100 on Spotify was
because I wanted to use data relevant to todays music industry and radio.
Use the shuffle function in order to receive unbiased song choices to collect data regarding song
length. Possible disadvantages from using this shuffle function would be that extreme outliers
could be collected in my data range. In that case I would analyze whether the outlier would
impair the validity of my study and whether it would disturb my results and from there either
replacing it and noting an outlier was excluded, or keeping it in my observed data.
With the data I collect I will include a bar graph in order to provide see if there is a visual
independence in my data and then, to confirm whether there is or isnt an independency I will
conduct a test.
From there I will state the null and alternative hypotheses to test if I should accept or reject the
null hypothesis.
I will then calculate the degrees of freedom in order to produce a critical value ( critical) from
a distribution table.

Allen, J. (2008, April 16). Two Minutes and 42 Seconds in Heaven - The Morning News. Retrieved
November 28, 2015, from http://www.themorningnews.org/article/two-minutes-and-42-secondsin-heaven
1

Page | iii

What is The Relationship between Average Song Length and Music Genre?
Wihlstrand, Majken- Leilani
Candidate Number: 003086-0125

I will then calculate the expected values from the observed values and using the formula, I
will calculate the chi square value ( calc) and from there either reject or accept the null
hypothesis depending on if the calc value is greater or lesser than the critical value.

Data Collection

In order to receive unbiased samples of songs of different genres I went onto the music streaming website,
Spotify, and I found weekly top 100's of the four music genres I wanted to study in this assessment. Of
each genre I recorded 20 randomly generated songs lengths for each genre by going into the playlists of
the various genres and using the shuffle function, a function that randomly selects songs in the playlist to
play. After gathering 80 data samples, I then calculated the general average song length for all genres. I
proceeded to count how many of the 80 samples were longer than the average for the general, average
song length and how many were shorter. I then proceeded to put the data in an observed data graph
grouped by genre and whether the song length was above or below average. I chose to group my data like
these because it was the simplest way to organize the data to check for independency of song length in
regards to music genre.

Table 1 shows the raw data of 20 songs lengths, listed in minutes: seconds.
Hip- Hop2
2:50
3:14
3:49
3:47
4:07
3:36
3:40
4:11
3:57
3:23
4:24
4:01
4:51
4:03
4:13
4:13
4:28
3:24
4:36

Pop3
3:38
3:58
3:40
2:58
2:35
3:03
3:55
3:40
4:07
3:32
3:26
2:56
4:07
4:02
3:47
4:38
5:29
3:29
3:02

Rock4
3:19
3:40
4:02
5:07
4:04
3:06
3:51
4:01
3:52
4:57
3:52
4:15
5:22
3:38
4:27
3:37
3:55
4:47
4:21

R&B5
3:27
4:04
6:10
5:44
4:59
4:31
3:03
3:46
3:42
2:57
4:02
5:08
4:05
4:00
4:32
3:51
3:31
3:21
3:00

Data collected from Spotify, (updated weekly) Top 100 Hip-Hop Tracks on Spotify. Retrieved
November 25, 2015, from
https://play.spotify.com/user/spotify/playlist/06KmJWiQhL0XiV6QQAHsmw
3 Data collected from Spotify, (updated weekly) Top 100 Pop Tracks on Spotify. Retrieved
November 25, 2015, from https://play.spotify.com/user/spotify/playlist/3ZgmfR6lsnCwdffZUan8EA
4 Data collected from Spotify, (updated weekly) Top 100 Rock Tracks on Spotify. Retrieved
November 25, 2015, from https://play.spotify.com/user/spotify/playlist/3qu74M0PqlkSV76f98aqTd
5 Data collected from Spotify, (updated weekly) Top 100 R&B Tracks on Spotify. Retrieved
November 25, 2015, from https://play.spotify.com/user/spotify/playlist/76h0bH2KJhiBuLZqfvPp3K

Page | iv

What is The Relationship between Average Song Length and Music Genre?
Wihlstrand, Majken- Leilani
Candidate Number: 003086-0125

Calculations
I completed a test to test for independence and I grouped my data into two categories, being above the
average song length for all 80 samples and below average song length for the 80 samples. Using the
formula = = I calculated the average song length for all 80 data samples, being 4:07 minutes.
Groups:

Below average song length= (<4:07)


Above average song length= (>4:07)

Table 3 displays the observed data


Hip-Hop
above average 7
below average 13
20
total

Pop

Rock

R&B

total

7
13
20

4
16
20

10
10
20

28
52
80

Graph 1 displays the observed data in a bar graph

Genre and average song length


18
16

Number of songs

14
12
10
Above average

Below average

6
4
2
0
hip-hop

pop

rock

r&b

Musical genre

A bar graph was made to show a visual representation of the data collected. As seen in the graph, in
general song were more often below the average song length, except in the genre R & B in which there is
an even distribution of songs below and above the average song length. It is also noted that the genre rock
had a higher amount of songs under the average song length

Page | v

What is The Relationship between Average Song Length and Music Genre?
Wihlstrand, Majken- Leilani
Candidate Number: 003086-0125

Test

My hypotheses for average song length in relation to music genre are as such:

= the average length of a song is independent of musical genre


= the average length of a song is not independent of musical genre.

Degrees of freedom:

(r-1) x (c-1)
(4-1) x (2-1) = 3
Rejection inequality:

The at a 5% significance with a degrees of freedom of 3 is 7.81. This will be applicable later,
when we test for independency because if the value is greater than , we will reject .

Level of Significance, retrieved December 10 , 2015 from http://passel.unl.edu/Image/NamuthCovertDeana956176274/chi-sqaure%20distribution%20table.PNG


6

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What is The Relationship between Average Song Length and Music Genre?
Wihlstrand, Majken- Leilani
Candidate Number: 003086-0125

calculation

Data presentation
Table 4 displays how the observed data will be presented
B1
B2
Total

A1
A
E
W

A2
B
F
X

A3
C
G
Y

A4
D
h
Z

Total
U
V
n

Table 5 displays how the expected values will be calculated.


A1

A2

B1
B1
total

A3

A4

total
U

V
n

Data and test

Table 4 displays the observed values

Above
average
Below average
total

Hip-hop
7

Pop
7

Rock
4

R&B
10

total
28

13
20

13
20

16
20

10
20

52
80

Rock

R&B

Table 5 displays the expected values


Hip-Hop
Above
average
Below
average
total

20

Pop
=

20

20

20

total
=

28
52
80

Page | vii

What is The Relationship between Average Song Length and Music Genre?
Wihlstrand, Majken- Leilani
Candidate Number: 003086-0125

The value is found is using the following equation

To get this I will be calculating

calc=

for every cell in our matrix in order to get the sum which will be

our that I will then compare to the to see whether I should reject or accept the .
=observed value, = expected value
Hip-Hop
2

Above average

Below average
total

Pop

=0
2

=0
0

Rock

=0
2

=0

1.98

R&B

= 1.29
2

=0.69

1.98

=1.29
2

=0.69

total
2.58
1.38
3.96

= 3.96

The at 5% significance with 3 degrees of freedom is 7.81. The value is 3.96 and since
7.81>3.96 we reject the , meaning song length is independent of musical genre.

Conclusion
The ideal song length is discussed vastly in the music industry and I was curious as to whether there is an
ideal song length in relation to specific musical genre. I tested whether average song length is dependent
on genre with a test. I collected and organized my data using the music streaming website Spotify and
recorded randomly generated song lengths according to genre. I then calculated the average song length,
ordered my data according to how many songs that were above or below this average, calculated the
expected values and then using the formula, calculated the value. Since the was lesser
than the , I rejected the null hypothesis, after checking the validity of my work on a calculator,
Ive come to the conclusion that song length is independent of musical genre.
I felt that the test was the most appropriate to explore the relation between song length and genre
because there are no other processes which couldve been used considering musical genre is not a
numerical value. I personally feel that the scale of this study was on a scale too small to definitively test
whether song length is independent of genre. Had I more data samples from various genres and subgenres
(ex. Classical, punk, electronic, jazz) and of different degrees of popularity, I think that song length would
be tested as dependent on genre. In my opinion, it was tested to be independent due to the fact that songs
in the top lists are typically produced to be approximately the same length. My small range data collection
limited my results and skewed my conclusion. I couldve put more time into the process in order to
collect as many as 50 song lengths from 10 different genres that are typically acclaimed to have

Page | viii

What is The Relationship between Average Song Length and Music Genre?
Wihlstrand, Majken- Leilani
Candidate Number: 003086-0125
extraordinary song lengths to produce a more accurate answer regarding the relationship between average
song length and musical genre.

Bibliography
Allen, J. (2008, April 16). Two Minutes and 42 Seconds in Heaven - The Morning News. Retrieved
November 28, 2015, from http://www.themorningnews.org/article/two-minutes-and-42-seconds-inheaven
Data collected from Spotify, (updated weekly) Top 100 Hip-Hop Tracks on Spotify. Retrieved November
25, 2015, from https://play.spotify.com/user/spotify/playlist/06KmJWiQhL0XiV6QQAHsmw
Data collected from Spotify, (updated weekly) Top 100 Pop Tracks on Spotify. Retrieved November 25,
2015, from https://play.spotify.com/user/spotify/playlist/3ZgmfR6lsnCwdffZUan8EA
Data collected from Spotify, (updated weekly) Top 100 Rock Tracks on Spotify. Retrieved November 25,
2015, from https://play.spotify.com/user/spotify/playlist/3qu74M0PqlkSV76f98aqTd
Data collected from Spotify, (updated weekly) Top 100 R&B Tracks on Spotify. Retrieved November 25,
2015, from https://play.spotify.com/user/spotify/playlist/76h0bH2KJhiBuLZqfvPp3K
Image: Level of Significance, retrieved December 10, 2015 from http://passel.unl.edu/Image/NamuthCovertDeana956176274/chi-sqaure%20distribution%20table.PNG

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