Rambler said:You may well, be right, but I'm just sceptical as to how effectively this can be done scientifically. Style, as a century of musicology has shown, is a notoriously difficult thing to pin down and categorise. The real connections between pieces of music are either conscious on the part of the artist - quotation, sampling, etc; or historical (in which case the musical connections can be pretty tangential); or aesthetic, on the part of the listener, which is damn near impossible to quantify. (Interestingly, it's through listeners, who have some sort of database entry system in front of them, that Pandora generates its data, so the subjective is being thrown right into the method, but processed as something rational.)
Ostensibly, they're not actually looking to convey particular 'styles', but rather sonic commonalities from amongst potentially disparate "styles". I guess I may be projecting my interest in this sort of thing onto them--but I rarely like to mix or listen from within "a" style. In terms of mood, texture, instrumentation, production method, lyrical content in the case of songs, etc, connections can be neither historical or nor conscious. For example, I found it interesting that the 'This Heat' mix found what are certainly "non-representative" tracks of particular artists whom one would never normally associate with This Heat, but which for that particular track at least, certainly shared sonic aspects. A person could go out and buy a record based on that "non-representative" track and feel burned, I suppose, but I'm interested in the exceptions as much as the rules.
Rambler said:Absolutely. The real limitation of Pandora at the moment is not necessarily the method, but the amount of music they have to apply it to - hence things like Bon Jovi coming up when one might have expected Acid Mothers Temple, eg.
I'm only 26 and have only a few thousand records, so I'm no master of all music or whatever, but I know enough to get around. And this thing definitely played me some things I've never heard of, and perhaps more persuasively, some things my usual biases (against "indie rock") would've kept me from hearing. And I got only one equivalent of Bon Jovi in terms of what-the-fuck-ness, out of over 50 tracks.
I'm trying a search for "The Meters" right now, and while certainly it's not throwing in dub tracks or experimental post punk or whatever that has a similar spartan feel as I might do---it's not throwing early Ray Charles or late-period P-Funk or whatever, it's getting to the unique funk qualities that I so much love about the Meters above and beyond an interest in the generic concept of funk. So while it's not necessarily making unexpected connections, it's certainly getting at something more accurately than the sort of recommend-bots that Amazon or the like use (which I assume are based more on consumption patterns).