Transpositions Within User-Posted YouTube Lyric Videos: A Corpus Study


  • Joseph Plazak Illinois Wesleyan University



YouTubeology, music communication models, digital audio manipulations, active listeners


There are many practical reasons why experiences of a given musical work tend to be heard repeatedly at the same pitch transposition level, especially recordings of musical works.  Yet here, a corpus study is presented that challenges this very basic assumption of music perception.  In 2011, an initial corpus of 100 user-posted YouTube videos was collected in order to investigate the prevalence of transposition and tempo alterations within these videos.  Results found 42% of these videos contained nominal changes of pitch (36%) and/or tempo (22%). Using the same methodology, a follow-up study was performed in 2015 and found only that 24% of user-posted videos contained these same alterations. Implications for these observations are discussed in light of musical communication models, YouTubeology, and absolute pitch memory.