When I was a teenager, radio stations would often have “Name That Tune” contests – they would play a series of ten short song excerpts, and encourage their listeners to call the station and identify as many titles (and artists) as they could, in order to win concert tickets or some other prize. Although I listened to the radio as much as any other teenager, I found these sound clips to be frustratingly short – often less than a second each – and I had great difficulty identifying even one or two songs, much less the ten required to win a prize.
Recently, I started thinking about those contests and what exactly was triggering our memory. The sound clips were far too brief for us to recognize a melody, so we must have been memorizing the raw audio itself. If this is true, then I should be able to assemble a montage of drumbeats (from well-known pop songs), and an avid music fan should be able to identify them as easily as the snippets of music. This is why the Internet is so wonderful – I can now do this experiment right here on my blog; I don’t need my own radio station.
This is a particularly easy drumbeat montage. The theme is 1986: every drumbeat sample is taken from a pop or rock song that was on the charts in 1986. If if that wasn’t enough of a hint, all of the drumbeat samples were taken from the beginning (or at the the first ten seconds) of each song.
As usual, there are ten samples, and there two different montages: an easy version with one second of silence between each drumbeat sample, and a more challenging version with no silence between the samples.
The 1986 Drumbeat Montage:
The 1986 Drumbeat Montage (with silence between the samples):