Photo by: Tania Matvienko

Modern music is more inventive than the melodies of yesteryear.

That is the implication of psychology research carried out at the University of Philadelphia in the US.

Dr. Richard W. Hass's paper analysed American pop music between 1916 to 1960 and found that melodies became more 'original' as time went on.

He also discovered that the older the composer, the less original his or her melodies became. When it comes to music, as in other aspects of life,  it seems the older we get, the more stuck in our ways we become.

In the same research Hass also sought to link fame with originality. Would a record with melodic originality necessarily become more famous than one without? Results showed that this was true to an extent, but it very much depended on the genre of music, especially whether it was instrumental, as opposed to music with a vocalist.

Invention, creativity and originality and their controlling factors regularly fascinate the world of science. In 1994, Prof. Dean Simonton compared different measures of melodic originality and Hass' paper was designed to replicate and build upon this research.

Dr. Hass specialises in educational psychology, cognitive science and applied psychology and past research includes brain processes in expert musicians and theories of creativity.