Step Aside, iTunes: Using MALLET to Create Playlists

If only there was some way to make a playlist relating to “love” songs, I thought, without turning to iTunes’ Genius mixes (or, heaven forbid, finding the songs manually).

As a series of posts in August mentioned, I’ve been using MALLET to topic model Top 40 music from 1964 to 1989. As a way to get a sense of what my topics mean I’ve been pulling up the top 20 songs that relate to a given topic. This is invaluable: you can get some obscure topics that don’t make sense to you, at first glance, but by looking at the top documents you can begin to make sense of it. This also all helped to confirm that MALLET is indeed working.

With the semester, however, I’m looking to refresh some of my playlists. As a busy person, like any good digital humanist, I realized this cried out for an automated solution*!

Take that, iTunes Genius!

The top 20 love songs as identified by a machine:

The topic: “love heart true give forever feel hold make darling loving share words found touch day arms makes making life”

And the top 20 war songs as identified by a machine:

The topic “black white war shot wall fight trouble cold gun standing man young child law land fighting ground dead devil”

* Sure, the automated solution took about a hundred times longer than just plunking obvious songs into a playlist. But next time, it’ll be quicker…

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