A recent mail from an itinerant relative suggests that "if you haven't already discovered this, you should try it to discover different music - Pandora, you get to listen to music related to your artist, discuss it (if you want) and find out new ones. it made me think of your blog!" In fact, I chanced across the Pandora web radio and its founders at the Music Genome Project just a day or two before my nephew wrote to me.
Project founder Tim Westergren ambitiously declares that part of the aim is "creating the most comprehensive analysis of music ever", by gathering and processing heaps of data about the 'genes' of pieces of music, which is a notion he explains on the site. You need a US postcode actually to register for free. Pandora's explanation for this reflects a concern about varying legislation different countries apply to streaming radio. It so happens that my five-figure postcode in Paris is also a US one... I've yet to try, but others might like to investigate and probably one day I shall.
I'm already registered at too many music sites. The two I currently use most are Last.fm and the indispensable allmusic, along with visits to musicians' MySpace pages. The appeal of 'AllMusic' and 'Last.fm' for me lies in the relatively recent phenomenon of "tagging" -- where people give brief attributes to bands, singers and songs -- though they don't call it tagging at the first place.
Users of 'AllMusic' will know that musicians of every kind are cross-referenced by "genre", "style", the "moods" their work evokes for the reviewers on the site, and by "themes", a category that can overlap with the others. Click on, say, the "reflection" tag for one artist and you'll find the site tosses up "introspection" as a similar theme among many others ... like "housework". The "reflection" theme page gives you an editorial pick of albums considered suitable. The further you explore, the stranger some of the alleged similarities become, but it can be interesting.
For all the oddities, I find that tagging, particularly when absolutely anyone can do it as at 'Last.fm', sometimes helps me around from one musician and album to another in my own collection by coming up with parallels that wouldn't have occurred to me. That seems pretty much what Tristam suggested I try with Pandora, but I wonder if musicians themselves identify with the assertions made at 'AllMusic' about those they have been influenced by and others they are held to influence.
My nephew asks whether I like Carla Bruni and know any similar stuff. The answer is "yes" on the strength of her 2002 debut album 'Quelqu'un m'a dit', mentioned a year back in 'What to fancy in a Frenchwoman'. I have yet to hear Bruni's foray into the realm of English poems she loves, set to music, but it sounds good by early accounts.
Despite the title of that entry last October, I noted then that not all of the singers listed are actually French and would go along with 'allmusic' people who hear similarities of style between the Italian Bruni and Feist, a Canadian close to my heart, as well as the well-travelled Dutch national Keren Ann.
All three are first-rate lyricists who have made gentle acoustic albums. I've praised Feist to the highest heavens in my time, while Keren Ann's Not Going Anywhere' is currently closer to my CD deck than the 'Nolita' album I loved and put in the soul-food list on the left, along with a couple of Emiliani Torrini records.
3:19:29 PM link