CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Researchers at Harvard University have concluded that 90 percent of new songs are not attempts at a legitimate musical work, but actually “just a little something” their writers have been working on, which is typically “no big deal.”
“We began by studying 1,000 different band practices, and noticed a pattern immediately,” explained head researcher Leah Clayton, pointing to a line graph detailing the timing and duration of each attempt. “At some point during a practice, a member of the band — usually the drummer — would pick up a guitar during a break and play a short riff, which was often followed by an unaccompanied guitar solo.”
“The other members would then typically ask something along the lines of, ‘Hey, what’s that?’ At which point, the songwriter will usually blush, and respond with something like, ‘Oh, it’s nothing… just, like, a little thing I’ve been kicking around, you know,’” Clayton added.
Clayton and her team of researchers were fascinated by this effect.
“We watched a man casually play a 40-minute song on the guitar, complete with seven verses, nine choruses, a bridge, two breakdowns, a tempo shift, and four guitar solos,” Dr. Amy O’Lillian recounted. “He then set the guitar back down and claimed it was ‘…just something I kinda made up, haha!’ It still baffles us that musicians are somewhat embarrassed about writing music.”
A study participant and bassist, who wished to remain anonymous for “personal safety reasons,” attempted to explain the phenomenon.
“Writing songs is, if you’re not the frontman or the guitarist, kinda lame,” said the bassist. “I’ve written four albums, but they’ve only seen the light of day as ‘…just some things I kinda came up with, sorta.’ I don’t wanna give these guys the idea that I’ve worked hard on anything. Besides, bands have structure. I’m not trying to Ringo this shit.”
Ronnie Lubowitz, a musical historian at Harvard and fellow researcher, claimed that the phenomenon has manifested itself many times over the course of musical history.
“It’s not uncommon for musicians to conceal the fact that they write music,” said Lubowitz. “This practice actually dates back to the early middle ages — recently unearthed relics of the Catholic church included multiple Gregorian chants entitled, ‘I dunno, just, like, something I kinda started fiddling with, I guess.’”
At press time, Clayton claimed the study itself was to be taken with a grain of salt, as it was “…just something I kinda whipped up for myself — not, like, a real piece for publication or anything.”