Musical Complexity vs. Texture in Popular Rock Bands

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A scatterplot listing 200 of the most popular rock bands and their relation to each other in musical complexity and song texture.

This is a scatterplot I created listing 200 of the most popular rock bands today across multiple sub-genres and a visual representation of their relation to each other based on two qualitative variables: complexity and texture.

On the chart above, I mapped complexity on the x-axis, and texture on the y-axis. I ignored very extreme bands on both ends as I don’t believe they could represent “popular” rock music, and instead included the most extreme examples of what I would consider to be in the popular music sphere.

Complexity: Ranging from the “Simple” extreme (you’d just about fall asleep learning to play this on any instrument) to the “Complex” extreme (your brain would all but explode analyzing this song)

Texture: Ranging from the “Mellow” extreme (the softest, most peaceful tunes that could still be considered rock) to the “Heavy” extreme (thick, raw, metal layered with screaming vocals)

Let me know in the comments below if you want me to add some more of your favorite bands, or just if you think I grossly misrated somebody; more updates are coming!


  1. Ari Koinuma

    This is a great idea, and that chart is fun to look at for music geeks like myself. But please include a higher-resolution image — that chart is too small to look at. Is Tool on there? I couldn’t find it. I’d put them high on both complexity and heavy on texture. I disagree with your placement of many acts, but I imagine this is a kind of thing where no two souls will agree. 😉

    This is a good start to a thoughtful blog, keep it up!

  2. aaron (Post author)

    Thanks for checking it out! Getting the image working was tough. I wanted to integrate an interactive chart so I could update it realtime from Google Drive, but I couldn’t find an easy way to do that at the time.

    Tool would be a great addition; I realized after that I was going to miss some important bands no matter how long I waited, so I’d be better off just posting it and updating later. It’s entirely subjective, so I think it’d be impossible to have everyone agree on placement.


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