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Is It a Country Ballad? Listen to the Beat! *

Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Free software can be downloaded to help measure the beats per minute in songs. See the Bibliography for more details.
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
*Note: This is an abbreviated Project Idea, without notes to start your background research, a specific list of materials, or a procedure for how to do the experiment. You can identify abbreviated Project Ideas by the asterisk at the end of the title. If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk.


Have you ever noticed that hip-hop songs have a fast tempo, while country ballads are usually slow? Do you think there is a correlation between the number of beats per minute (bpm) in a song and the type of music? You can explore whether different genres of music have different bpm ranges by measuring the bpm in several different songs from a number of different genres. Bpm can be measured using free music software, like the one listed below in the Bibliography, or by counting all the beats you hear in 15 seconds of a song and then multiplying that number by 4 (to get 60 seconds worth of beats). Either way, make sure to calculate the bpm for a large number of songs all from different artists (at least 12) for each music type so that you are accurately representing the range of tempos in the genre. The library is a great place to find music from different genres, or check with friends and family, if you don't have a large collection of your own. How easy do you think it is to place a song in a genre by bpm alone? Which genres have the fastest tempos? Which have the slowest? Hint: You're likely to see smaller ranges, and thus have more easily interpreted data, if you use more narrowly defined and specific music styles, like bluegrass or zydeco, rather than country music; and bossa nova or samba, rather than Latin music. For more information on music styles, consult the second reference in the Bibliography.

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Science Buddies Staff. "Is It a Country Ballad? Listen to the Beat!" Science Buddies. Science Buddies, 10 Oct. 2014. Web. 24 Oct. 2014 <http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/Music_p017.shtml>

APA Style

Science Buddies Staff. (2014, October 10). Is It a Country Ballad? Listen to the Beat!. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/Music_p017.shtml

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Last edit date: 2014-10-10


This website offers free computer software that can help you measure the beats per minute (bpm) in a song:

A list of different music styles is available at this website:

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I did this project I Did This Project! Please log in and let us know how things went.

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