Using Voyant for Insights into Frank Ocean’s Albums Blond/e and Channel Orange

For this praxis assignment, I struggled at first with deciding what texts I wanted to explore. I wanted to explore which corpora were publicly available, in hopes of using an existing corpus instead of building my own. However, I ended up making my own corpora in realizing that I couldn’t force myself to be interested in the existing free-to-the-public corpora I had seen. Though I’m sure there must be something out there that speaks to my interests, I had a tough time effectively searching for resources on my own as a novice to text mining. Despite the fact that building my own corpus would require more work, it was a fun exercise that made the experience more rewarding.

I use Voyant in hopes of gaining some insights regarding themes within Frank Ocean’s Blond/e and Channel Orange albums. These albums are personally some of my favorites of all time. I was interested in seeing what insights Voyant could provide for the “bigger picture” between (and among) the lyrics on each album, especially in comparison to my subjective experience of listening to these albums.

My first instinct was to try and figure out how I would be retrieving the lyrics for Frank Ocean’s songs. I figured I could use an API to pull song lyric information. I was planning to use Genius, but their API focuses more on the annotations, and not necessarily the lyrics themselves. So, I manually copied and pasted the lyrics to all his songs on both albums into .txt files within separate folders representing the albums instead. Initially, I was planning to just pass each album in separately to Voyant. I wanted to explore how Frank Ocean’s lyrics changed from Channel Orange (2012) to Blond/e (2016), especially with regards to his queerness (which I’ve personally felt has been greater explored in his later music in Blond/e, but is definitely subtly present within Channel Orange). But after reflecting more on the insights I was hoping to gain, I decided to pass all the songs from both albums combined, in order to see what themes may have overlapped in the context of one another. Additionally, I passed two separate parts of the Blond/e album split in half.  The album Blond/e is actually split into two separate parts – the album is exactly one hour, with the transition in “Nights” occurring at the 30 minute mark, directly splitting it in half.. Hence, there are two spellings of the album; the album cover art says “blond” while the album title is listed as Blonde. Duality is a major theme explored in Blond/e, with regards to the album branding, the song lyrics, and the musical composition. I think the duality themes present could be interpreted in reference to Frank Ocean’s bisexuality!

After passing 5 different corpora into Voyant, the resulting cirrus and link visualizations follow.

Channel Orange

  • Some notes:
    • With regards to love, it seems as though Frank Ocean is looking to make something real happen
    • In the cirrus, I come to understand Channel Orange to be about thinking and looking for real love, and being lost in the process.


  • Some notes:
    • Blond/e appears to be on his own, and learning to navigate that
    • In the cirrus, I come to understand Channel Orange to be about thinking and looking for real love, and being lost in the process.
    • As a whole, Blond/e could be interpreted as a farewell to a past fond lover, and trying to make it through the days (and nights)

Blond/e Part I

  • A note:
    • In the first part of Blond/e, there tends to be more words regarding struggle, such as solo, night, hell, leave, etc., as well as reference to marijuana to likely cope with heartbreak.

Blond/e Part II

  • Some notes:
    • In the second part of Blond/e, there is more references to day (which ties back in to my original statement about the two album parts representing duality)
    • In the overall word links, there are also links to Frank being “brave” and thinking about “god” – knowing the album myself, I interpret references to god to deal with learning to let go (hence his song “Godspeed”)

Channel Orange + Blond/e

  • Some notes:
    • Overall when combining the two albums, there seems to be prevalent references to love, god, and night/day.

Overall, playing around with Voyant was a fun experience. I hope to explore more, especially with regards to music analysis. I’m wondering if there’s similar analysis tools that can incorporate mining both text AND audio on bigger scales (though I know with audio files, it’s more difficult due to data constraints potentially). I wish I had more time to analyze the visualizations, and to dig deeper into formulating some insights that align (or contradict!) with my own personal close listening.