Musical Complexity Factor (MCF)

The musical complexity factor theory is a personal way to scale every type of music and determine its complexity.

While most of the data is empirical, it gives a good idea about how I create the music and my choices of music for the game.

100% is what an average brain can handle. While everyone is different this is an average. If the music is lower and has a ration inferior to 100%, then the brain has no issue digesting it. It usually end up to be a pleasant experience for most people as they do not have to do any effort to comprehend the music.

You will notice that most popular music are having a ratio inferior to 100%. It is because the brain is lazy. If he is listening something easy to comprehend, it will like it.

Otherwise, if the ratio is more than 100%, that means that the brain is not going to process all the different categories at the same time. At first listening, the brain will focus on the lyrics, the melody and the harmony for instance, which is the base for any pop/rock songs. If you listen at the music repetitively, then the brain will slowly goes through the rest as soon as it has digested the main part. That will make the music more enjoyable to listen after many times.

People will say “I didn’t liked at the beginning but the more I listen to it, the more I like it.”

That because the first time, the music was too complex for your brain, so it listened partially, some elements only, and rejected it as bad music, because it failed to comprehend it entirely.

Then after several time, the brain will progressively analyse the song and appreciate the full complexity of it and it will flag it as enjoyable.

Big successes are usually rather simple. While music that survives a long time are more complex and often are re-discovered after the author’s death.

Enjoy these examples of MCF in this spreadsheet.

MCF Music Complexity Factor

I try to make and use in the game complex music, that’s why I am asking to the composers I am working with, to do above and beyond of what a normal music is.

The fact that the music is played in the game, give the opportunity to make the player enjoy MCF ratios that are far above what he is used to listen, and this is likely to get them to like the music and not being bored. With a ratio of 280 for example, a mix of Nikko music is going to be too complex to be released as a single or on a radio.

But while playing the game, the player will have plenty of time to dissect the tune, using his brain background analysis, and he will start to appreciate music that he would not listen at all in a normal musical context. In the end, the background music will not be boring, because the brain will always entertained by something that is above 100% and rapidly bored by something more simple.

Author TheWolf
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