Musical Moods for BBC Theme Songs


No matter how old you are, when you hear the theme song to your favorite show playing in the next room, the strongest impulse is always to run over and plop yourself down in front of the screen in unabashed anticipation for the episode to start. It’s almost as if the person who composed the theme had your psychology down to a science. That may very well be the case. The network BBC, which is responsible for syndicating some of the best quality programming of the last century, is trying to tap into how audiences react to their program theme songs.

The Musical Moods experiment for National Science & Engineering Week UK is a sound experiment that aims to find out how viewers categorize the mood of certain BBC-TV theme tunes (past and present). It aims to find out whether there are new ways of classifying online TV content through the mood of the music rather than the program genre itself.

The whole experiment takes about ten minutes and is incredibly easy. You listen to themes and answer a few questions about each theme afterward. Click here to participate!

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Interested in how music affects emotion and the human brain? Here is a useful list of seven essential books on just that topic from Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings blog:

Earworms, song that cross borders, and an Afghan Elvis? Listen to this episode of the science podcast RadioLab on how pop music makes its way into our lives (whether we like it or not).

Categories: Citizen Science

About the Author


Lily Bui

Although she holds dual non-science bachelors’ degrees in International Studies and Spanish from the University of California Irvine, Lily has long harbored a proclivity for the sciences. A daughter of an engineer and an accountant who also happen to be a photographer and musician, respectively, Lily grew up on the nexus between science and art. Lily has worked on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.; served a year in AmeriCorps in Montgomery County, Maryland; worked for a New York Times bestselling ghostwriter in California; and performed across the U.S. as a touring musician. She currently works with WGBH-TV Boston and Public Radio Exchange (PRX) in Cambridge. In her spare time, she thinks of cheesy science puns (mostly to entertain herself). // Tweets @dangerbui