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Can technology figure out why you like that song so much?

Answer: Yes! AI can.

Researchers at the University of Southern California have turned to artificial intelligence technology to try and figure out how music influences how we feel. 

They began by measuring human responses like brain activity, physiological reactions and emotions to pieces of music. This data was then combined with 74 musical elements from the songs like harmony, rhythm and pitch and then fed the data into multiple machine learning algorithms. These AI systems parsed out the elements of the songs that were the strongest predictors of how listeners would feel. They discovered that one of the best ways to predict how a song will affect someone’s emotions is its brightness, which comes from its level of medium and high frequencies.

The team imagines their findings being used to create ideal playlists for certain situations. “You wouldn’t want to listen to a song that’s gonna make your heart rate spike right before bedtime, but maybe you do if you’re going on a long drive and you haven’t had much coffee,” one of the researchers told MIT Technology Review.

Kate is a senior copy editor in Northern California. She holds a bachelor's degree in English with a minor in professional writing from the University of California, Davis.
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