The Minor Fall, the Major Lift: Inferring Emotional Valence of Musical Chords through Lyrics

Artemy Kolchinsky, Nakul Dhande, Kengjeun Park, Yong-Yeol Ahn

We investigate the association between musical chords and lyrics by analyzing a large dataset of user-contributed guitar tablatures. Motivated by the idea that the emotional content of chords is reflected in the words used in corresponding lyrics, we analyze associations between lyrics and chord categories. We also examine the usage patterns of chords and lyrics in different musical genres, historical eras, and geographical regions. Our overall results confirms a previously known association between Major chords and positive valence. We also report a wide variation in this association across regions, genres, and eras. Our results suggest possible existence of different emotional associations for other types of chords.

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