Vibes in Verse: Decoding the band TEMMIS

Hi, this is Vivien. At Datawrapper, I’m responsible for the Data Vis Dispatch. Welcome to my first Weekly Chart!

Music is always a popular topic for Weekly Charts: We’ve had the cost of famous albums, the best of hip-hop, and even a recreation of the cover art for Joy Division’s “Unknown Pleasures.” Other colleagues have created charts that deal with their personal tastes in music, from a year in listening to an entire musical lifetime. This one is a little different. It’s a tribute to one band that has my heart: TEMMIS.

I wish I could say that I’ve been a music freak forever, but that would be a lie. As the column chart above illustrates, moving to Potsdam in 2021 was a turning point for me; I only really discovered then that I enjoy certain artists enough to attend their concerts. It wasn’t Berlin’s techno scene that I encountered, but a whole new genre: Neue Neue Deutsche Welle. Specifically TEMMIS, who I saw for the first time last year.

TEMMIS through their lyrics

What I really like about Neue Neue Deutsche Welle ("New New German Wave") is the feeling that the bands and artists transmit from the stage. It's real, experimental, and so many of the artists know and support each other personally — and the fanbubble mirrors this behavior. And of course, it’s the lyrics that appeal to me, about the melancholy emotional themes everyone has felt in life.

It was only through making this chart that I realized TEMMIS has just nine songs — how could I not see that while streaming them on repeat? But their small catalog does make it easier to see the whole picture: TEMMIS lyrics tend use the melancholy words like Nacht (night) or vorbei (over) that are typical for the New New Wave genre. But the songs are very different in lyrical structure. Some use one distinctive word like Sommer (summer) or Klinge (blade) extensively, while others use only common words that appear in almost every song.

A closer look

Inspired by the work of Frederica Fragapane, I wanted to take the concept of using a scatterplot to analyze lyrics a step further and apply it to one song in particular. Let's continue with the song that relies most heavily on a single word: "Sommer vorbei" ("Summer Was Over") from the album "Wenn du da bist."

It's exciting how you can understand and analyze the structure of a song through its visual representation. For example, the theme of the song intensifies in the second half because the chorus and pre-chorus are longer, with more repetitions of the same key lines.

Getting the data

The Genius API is awesome, and I used it to get the song lyrics with a little help from the Python package LyricsGenius. From there it was only a little more Python here and there to filter and count words.

I learned a lot about a band I already loved — listen to TEMMIS here and maybe you’ll love them too. Next week will be a Weekly Chart from our visualization developer Luc.