Wednesday, December 14, 2005

a prevalent use of groove

I don't understand how it works, but this is a very cool thing. You tell it the name of a song you like, and it creates a "radio station" playing music it thinks you'll like based on a painstaking analysis of the song you fed it. You can refine the output by choosing more songs, or giving thumbs up/thumbs down on the ones it plays for you.

And it's free. Yeah, there are some ads, but you can ignore those, or subscribe.

I used to fantasize about designing a device that would read brain signals to determine what exactly about a piece of music a listener was responding to. Then it would choose or make music tailored to the listener's preferences. This comes pretty close, and unlike my design doesn't involve sticking anything into the old brainpan! So far, I've liked about 80% of what it's found me, some of it quite a bit, and most of it stuff I've never heard of before. If you hit the "why did you play this?" button, it explains how the current song matches the music you've picked out--so apparently, I'm drawn to "latin influences, use of tonal harmonies, electronica roots, and a prevalent use of groove."

I don't know enough about music to know what some of that means (although I'd like to tattoo "prevalent use of groove" on my body somewhere) which is part of why this is so useful to someone like me. I heard about it from a friend who used to be a music writer, and she thought it was cool but nothing earth-shaking; it wasn't tossing out anything that really surprised her. But for someone who doesn't know much about music, and doesn't listen to the radio very often for new stuff, and doesn't risk purchasing too much music she's never heard of... this is very helpful. You can even probe the music-loving brains of your friends who have signed up; by entering their e-mail address under "shared stations" you can listen to what Pandora is picking out for them.

The more I write, the more I feel like an infomercial. But I'm always impressed by elegant technology, and this falls into that category for me. I've had it on for most of the day as I wrangled a mindless piece of writing into shape.

If you try it, let me know what you think.