Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Our new citizen science experiment #HookedOnMusic

Imagine listening to a catchy tune. When do you nod your head and sing along? That's the hook, the most memorable part of the song, crafted by songwriters to stick in your head and exploited by DJs to get people onto the dance floor.  Everyone knows a hook when they hear it, but scientists don't know why.

With the launch of our new online game #HookedOnMusic you can join music lovers around the world to explore the science of songs and help scientists unlock what makes music catchy.

Play the game at  You don't need anything special, just a good internet connection and sound (or wear headphones).   You'll be asked to identify a song as quickly as you can by listening to short clips.  You can also vote on which part of a song do you think is catchier.  You don't need any specialist knowledge to play - just a love of music.  You can play as many times as you like; the more you play, the more data we will gather for the scientists.

We are working with scientists from the University of Amsterdam, Utrecht and the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision.  They will use this data to test hypotheses around what makes the hook - this most noticeable, easiest-to-recall fragment of music - is it rhythm, melody, key changes...?

Hooks have the power to jog memories and emotions; this is particularly powerful for people suffering from memory degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's.  The results of our experiment have the potential to provide insight into what makes music memorable and in particular what makes music memorable over the long term.  Armed with this knowledge, carers might be able to predict more accurately what music might be the most memorable for a particular patient and where to start playing that music to test most efficiently whether a patient actually does remember a piece of music.

We hope you enjoy the game and thank you for playing.  We need plenty of data for the scientists, so keep playing and spread the word.  We'll also keep you posted about live events where you can get involved and we'll be announcing the first results at the Manchester Science Festival in the autumn.

Check out for more information.