I've been playing with the pandora beta this week. It's one of those "if you like x, we'll play you y" streaming radio services. Of course, there is nothing remotely classical i.e. no Philip Glass let alone Couperin or Cowell. But the interesting twist is that instead of using social recommendations, it's based on exhaustive musical analysis of tracks. I've started three "stations" -- one based on Boards of Canada, one on Interpol and one on Mission of Burma. Each station plays tracks of the artist and related to the artist. I then tweak the station by indicating if I like it or not. For example, Angel's Sen by Sevendust is currently playing on my Boards of Canada station. I can then ask why this is playing:
Based on what you've told us so far, we're playing this track because it features basic rock song structures, mild rhythmic syncopation, a subtle use of vocal harmony, and a clear focus on recording studio production.
I happen to really dislike the current song. While those factors may in fact be present, how did my Boards of Canada station end up requiring "a subtle use of vocal harmony?" Still, it's a fun exercise.
Car Radio by Spoon on my Mission of Burma station "features electronic rock instrumentation, punk influences, mild rhythmic syncopation, a subtle use of vocal harmony, and major key tonality." Ok, I never realized my preference for syncopation but given all those jazz years, it makes sense.
On Interpol (coming to San Jose in September!) radio,
Well, I can't quote it because it is not working right now (unfortunately, I think it's a flash application and my PC has problems with graphically intense programs. Buying that HP "Carly Fiorina Celebrity Edition" PC two years ago was a mistake). Still, the key Interpol attribute I remember was minor key tonality and in general, I like my pop music minor. What I really want is a control panel where I can explicitly choose major/minor, production studio/unprocessed acoustic, etc. I realize the average music consumer won't be able to handle that level of specificity and so for now, I'm stuck with thumbs up/thumbs down mode. Final note: If someone can come up with the set of relevant attributes, I volunteer to listen to thousands of classical tracks so we can leverage their "genomes".
Update #2: No, Pandora stalled again just as it was about to play Iron Man. Though, if I click on fast forward, it takes me to a Wishbone Ash track Lady Whiskey that I have to say sounds very Black Sabbath-ish. Carter was president the last time I heard Wishbone Ash:
...it features hard rock roots, mild rhythmic syncopation, minor key tonality, repetitive melodic phrasing, and extensive vamping.
Well, that pretty much sums up the seventies...