Interaction between musical and poetic form affects song popularity: The case of the Genevan Psalter.

Differences in the popularity of individual psalms and melodies from the Genevan Psalter, both in the Netherlands and elsewhere, offer an interesting case study for investigating factors that might influence the popularity of a song. The Genevan psalms form a relatively small set of hymns (N = 150) that has long played an important role in Dutch cultural life, and it is clear that some psalms are more popular than others. Previous researchers have shown that contents and musical mode influence popularity. In this article, we present evidence that interaction between melodic and poetical features also affects song popularity, presumably by affecting processing fluency. Pilot studies generated a set of preference rules, operationalized in two multinomial factors, repetition and balanced motion. These were tested in three subsequent studies in regression analyses on scales indicating the popularity of Genevan psalms or melodies in specific “arenas” (i.e., countries, denominations, and era), with both separate regressions and regressions with full models including variables concerning contents, mode, and length. Both repetition and balanced motion turned out to be significant predictors in all regressions. Furthermore, the specific way many Dutch protestants have sung the psalms through the ages plays a part in this interaction. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)