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What Song Lyrics Say About Your Mood

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Research by University of Vermont scientists shows an unexpected new way to measure the nation's mood. Software created by Dr. Peter Dodds and Dr. Chris Danforth of the University of Vermont, collects song lyrics, speeches and Twitter "tweets," zeroing in on the happiest and saddest days of the last few years. Today, Dr. Dobbs tells us about the "hedonometer," or Happiness Meter.


Dr. Peter Dodds

Comments [7]

Sarah from Brooklyn

This study is silly. If you're going to use language as data, how can you ignore context? Analyzing the use of the words "love" or "death" means nothing without a consideration of tone, the sentence itself, the sentences around that sentence, speaker/author intention etc etc. --i.e. all the things that give words meaning

Why use computers to crunch large numbers of something that ultimately gives no insight or false insight? You'd do better having 5 thoughtful, close readers sit down with these lyrics and give less objective analysis than plugging a bunch of vocabulary into a database and applying numbers to words.

Aug. 06 2009 02:27 PM
Matt from 160 Varick Street

Dr. Dodds is missing the point about all this harping on the individual words.
If the algorhythm is misunderstanding the words, how can the macro data be legitimate?

Aug. 06 2009 02:18 PM

Sorry for posting twice, I thought I got bumped th first time for not being civil ;)

Aug. 06 2009 02:17 PM

I'm a computer programmer and I would call this "algorithm" NOT SO SMART: the sentence "I killed my lover" would be balanced because it contains a positive and a negative word?

Dr. Dodds needs to check the word "context" in the dictionary. I know analysis of this sort is difficult with a computer but his attempt is a little pathetic.

Aug. 06 2009 02:16 PM
Matt from 160 Varick Street

Seriously! Has this "dr" ever heard of irony?
Death can me life and visa versa?
Of what significance is merely counting words without accounting for their context?
What about how the music might contradict the words, signalling irony?

Get real!

Aug. 06 2009 02:13 PM

I'm a computer programmer and I would consider the "algorithm" here COMPLETELY IDIOTIC: So the sentence "I stabbed my lover" would be balanced, because it contains both a negative and positive word?

Dr. Dodds must be a borderline moron. Someone hand him a dictionary open to the word "context". Perhaps that part was too hard to handle, math wise...

Aug. 06 2009 02:12 PM
Telegram Sam from Staten Island

Billie Jean is a HAPPY song???!!! It's about a woman confronting a guy that he knocked her up -- the guy is totally paranoid and scared that he's really the father. And it's in a minor key, all the way through. How about LISTENING to the song; READING the lyrics.

Aug. 06 2009 02:11 PM

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