Dear Pandora,

Firstly, just to jump right into it, I love your name! (Wait- Pandora had a jar?!) I totally feel that. Endless streaming (as long as I occasionally poke the radio, so you know I am in the room) of things I wouldn’t have guessed, a lot of things I wouldn’t have grouped together, and a bunch of music I’m like, yeah, I love that song too!

I made my first station to find more stuff like Sufjan Stevens, which apparently involves disco influences, mild rhythmic syncopation (you know it!), minor key tonality (more please!!!), and vocal harmonies (FOR REALS!!!) I ended up learning: a) what I like in music and b) what else I might want to listen to.

Here are some bands/songs I’ve found/rediscovered and what led me there:

  • “Be My Escape” by Relient  k (Fall Out Boy radio)
  • Cartel (Fall Out Boy radio)
  • Boys Like Girls (Fall Out Boy radio)
  • Kanye West (Missy Elliott radio)
  • Juvenile (Missy Elliott radio)
  • “Down with the Sickness” by Disturbed (Linkin Park radio)
  • “Dance Hall Girls” by the Duhks (“The Christians and the Pagans” radio)
  • “Hold Onto It” by Brooke Miller (“The Christians and the Pagans” radio)

And the rest!!!

I am in love with The Music Genome Project! I feel so inspired by your example! To quote:

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.

Exactly! This is so interesting to me, because for most of my musical life, my tastes were always influenced by my self-identification. I.e., I was into hip-hop when I was twelve, so that is exclusiveishly what I listened to. Then, when I learned about “Alternative” music/culture, I was like, THIS IS COOL AND I WANT TO BE COOL. (Also, the music sounded good to me, natch, but it was about more than the aesthetics of it.) Now, if I were going to claim some kind of musical identity, it would be about being eclectic. Like, as I am loading my computer and analyzing my musical holdings/mix tapes and CDs, I am all, I LIKE EVERYTHING! Which is pretty much true, but also not very informative.

*catches breath* Oh, so what I was going to say is that, Pandora, you are helping me to get it! There are certain things I like in music that keep on coming up. I like vamping, key and tempo and time signature changes, minor keys, harmony, anthemicalness (oh, I can’t remember the word), gravelly-voiced male singers, and unintelligible lyrics (HA!), among other things. This is something I can work with! It goes beyond what I would think of as genre and into something more interesting: what are my tastes, outside of cultural identifications?

I envision a world where traditional genres are irrelevant. Music could just be categorized by its elements. People could sample at will! I think of it as somewhat utopian, but I also want to say that, living in Oakland (California), I am already seeing this happen. I see kids identifying with local culture (yay!) as opposed to an image of what they should like– and the local culture here is totally eclectic and unclassifiable.

And, while I still listen to and cherish local radio, I adore you too, Pandora. Maybe it is because you are a smart algorithm built on Python, maybe it is because I know you have no agenda whatsoever, or maybe it is because you blew my mind when you suggested Dolly Parton on my Dar Williams station. You are on my iPhone and in my heart.

Love love love….


1 Comment »

  1. Les Said:

    Oooh, just wait until spotify gets to the states. It will BLOW YOUR MIND.

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