Statistics learned to distinguish the songs of McCartney and Lennon

Statistics learned to distinguish the songs of McCartney and Lennon

Two mathematicians from Harvard University have created a method that allows to assess the authorship of Beatles songs, and to answer the eternal question — Paul or John?

“The probability that “In My Life” was written by McCartney, is equal to 0.18. Most likely, it was written by Lennon”. Fans of The Beatles and mathematics of the Harvard mark Glickman and his former student Jenson brown has developed a method of statistical analysis that allows to determine which of the Beatles wrote a song.

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The study of stylistics, enabling the identification of specific patterns of the author’s use of visual techniques and the individual components (in the analysis of the text words), called stylometry. Stylometry allowed, in particular, to fix the authorship of Shakespeare for the play “Double deception” (Double Falsehood), which was previously attributed to another author. Stichometrically technique Glickman and brown does not analyze the text and the music, and allows you to determine who from the Beatles wrote the melody to a given song.

Most of the lyrics and music of The Beatles written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon (Don’t Pass Me By, as you know, Ringo wrote). However, there are plenty of songs about which it is unknown wrote it, Lennon or McCartney, the memories of musicians at odds, in particular, lyrical c In my life album Rubber Soul 1965.

Just as color is decomposed into red, green and blue in different proportions, we decompose the Beatles song — though we have more than three components, as many as 149.Mark Glickman

We take into account the frequency of popular chords and combinations are unpopular, supporting the melody, the frequency of transitions from one chord to a different one melody to another, and melodic contour. The latter allows to estimate the rate of change of pitch in music composition. The songs Lennon, the melodic contour is very monotonous, the songs McCartney — on the contrary.

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For Glickman and his student brown it was more of an interesting exercise in statistics, but the method may have other applications. “We could consider the history of pop music and trace for someone who was affected by, for example,” — explains the scientist.