Repetitive lyrics in pop songs has always been a sore spot for the music snobs of the world. But is repetitiveness really a negative thing? How present are these repetitive trends anyways? And how can we begin to measure or visualize the repetitiveness in songs?
Colin Moris set out to answer some of these questions by making SongSim, a tool for creating visual representations of song lyrics to better show the amount of repetition they contain.
The above image is a visualization of the lyrics for Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”, and was generated by SongSim. The tool already has a collection of various songs and text available to look at, but also offers the option to add your own custom text set. It works by assigning each each word of the lyrics to the X and Y axis of the image. Then it analyzes where these lyrics cross. The direct effect is the noticeable diagonal line across the image. Where things get interesting, though, are the sets of lines that form off the diagonal. These are representative of repeated phrases. Smaller lines show smaller phrases that are often repeated within the larger lines they surround, revealing repetition within repetition. These visualizations not only create an interesting look into lyrical structure, they often simply look beautiful, such as with Beyonce’s “Formation”, shown below.
You can see a deeper exploration of the SongSim tool, as well as some interesting applications, in this video by Vox:
You can see the original blog post by Colin Moris here:
And you can try out the SongSim interactive tool here:
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