A New Kind of Radio!

Filed under: Art,Music — Chamberlain @ 1:43 pm
No. 151



This post will not be illuminating to many, especially the android savvy readers – apologies in advance – but some of you may, like me, find the following interesting, and more importantly, delightfully useful.

First, some background. St Louisans recently have experienced a bitter blow, the loss of KFUO, Classic 99, the only classical radio in the St Louis area. Yes, it has been replaced by an NPR station KWMU-3 but this requires an HD radio, or an internet link to http://www.stlpublicradio.org/classical/. In addition, as was the case before, the listener is subjected to the tastes of the sponsors as well as to the fund raising chatter and ads of the host between pieces.

An alternative? Pandora. This to me is an incredible step forward for people who want some control over the music at home or in their workplace. Essentially, Pandora provides listeners with their own radio stations, each an internet stream of music which the listener selects and filters over time, with few (or none, if you purchase Pandora One at $3/mo) ads. Best of all, these stations can be dedicated to jazz, classical, rock, opera, or whatever suits your taste.

The idea for Pandora stems from something called the Music Genome Project, a fascinating and ambitious musicological venture.

The Music Genome Project®

On January 6, 2000 a group of musicians and music-loving technologists came together with the idea of creating the most comprehensive analysis of music ever.

Together we set out to capture the essence of music at the most fundamental level. We ended up assembling literally hundreds of musical attributes or “genes” into a very large Music Genome. Taken together these genes capture the unique and magical musical identity of a song – everything from melody, harmony and rhythm, to instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and of course the rich world of singing and vocal harmony. It’s not about what a band looks like, or what genre they supposedly belong to, or about who buys their records – it’s about what each individual song sounds like.

Since we started back in 2000, we’ve carefully listened to the songs of tens of thousands of different artists – ranging from popular to obscure – and analyzed the musical qualities of each song one attribute at a time. This work continues each and every day as we endeavor to include all the great new stuff coming out of studios, clubs and garages around the world.

It has been quite an adventure, you could say a little crazy – but now that we’ve created this extraordinary collection of music analysis, we think we can help be your guide as you explore your favorite parts of the music universe.

Tim Westergren
The Music Genome Project



When Pandora opened her jar, we all know what occurred – all of mankind’s evils escaped to haunt us*. But did you realize that Pandora was able to prevent one thing’s escape? Hope. In the sphere of music, this hope to my mind has been realized in Pandora radio -something you should definitely explore – let us know what you think!

(Disclaimer: no commercial or other link with Pandora by the Management)

*This myth is perhaps an early example of a ‘theodicy’, but you’d better check with Sophie Skinner to verify this…

1 Comment »

  1. Totally agree, I’ve had it for about a year and have 30 different stations. If you get a flashback for an artist that you remember, off you go. I heard Joe Williams sing today and remember seeing him at the Newport Jazz festival with Count Basie, put in his name and off you go. What’s most fun is refining what you want to hear by up or down voting and discovering some pretty neat artists. I’ve got my speakers plugged in to the computer so I can really ramp it up, so two pinkies up for pandora!!

    Comment by Doc Cromie — December 12, 2010 @ 5:04 pm

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