Saturday, October 17, 2009

Pandora Genome Decoded

If Pandora internet radio is one of the few things that gets you through your workday, then perhaps you'll enjoy reading this article from the New York Times Sunday Magazine.

The music genome project, the back end of Pandora, is an unbelievably labor intensive endeavor that identifies and rates hundreds of musical elements for more than 700,000 songs.
Some elements that these musicologists (who, really, are musicians with day jobs) codify are technical, like beats per minute, or the presence of parallel octaves or block chords. Someone taking apart Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” documents the prevalence of harmony, chordal patterning, swung 16ths and the like. But their analysis goes beyond such objectively observable metrics. To what extent, on a scale of 1 to 5, does melody dominate the composition of “Hey Jude”? How “joyful” are the lyrics? How much does the music reflect a gospel influence? And how “busy” is Stan Getz’s solo in his recording of “These Foolish Things”? How emotional? How “motion-inducing”?

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