Burgoyne, J. A., Balen, J. van, Bountouridis. D, & Honing, H. (2013). Hooked: A game for discovering what makes music catchy. Proceedings of the International Society for Music Information Retrieval.


Although there has been some empirical research on earworms, songs that become caught and replayed in one's memory over and over again, there has been surprisingly little empirical research on the more general concept of the musical hook, the most salient moment in a piece of music, or the even more general concept of what may make music 'catchy'. Almost by definition, people like catchy music, and thus this question is a natural candidate for approaching with 'gamification'. We present the design of Hooked, a game we are using to study musical catchiness, as well as the theories underlying its design and the results of a pilot study we undertook to check its scientific validity. We found significant differences in time to recall pieces of music across different segments, identified parameters for making recall tasks more or less challenging, and found that players are not as reliable as one might expect at predicting their own recall performance.

Full paper (pdf)