A while back I discovered the internet radio station site called Pandora. They let you build your own station by selecting songs or artists that have the qualities you want in your music. This is a great idea, but I’m finding it a bit frustrating.
They way they work is to give labels to various characteristics of each song. For instance, Blackbird by The Beatles has these elements:
mellow rock instrumentation
major key tonality
thru composed melodic style
a good dose of acoustic guitar pickin’
a dynamic male vocalist
acoustic rhythm guitars
If you base your station on Blackbird, then they will select for you songs that have at least a couple of the characteristic from this list. I’m fine with that. What gets to me is they don’t give you access to their list of characteristic. Sure, you can see some of the list for each song as it plays, but you can’t tell them which parts of the list you want your station to focus on.
As a result they seem to think I like disco. I have yet to select any songs or musicians that are disco, but apparently much of what I like has disco influence. Like Afro Celts. I didn’t pick them for the disco, I picked them for the combination of African and Celtic influences. But Pandora gives me no way to tell them so.
Everything I added to the station is intended to bring in particular elements. You can simply glance at my list: Yerba Buena, Afro Celts, Kodo, Mickey Hart, certain songs by Paul Simon and Peter Gabriel, and you know instinctively what I’m fishing for. World Beat. That’s what I want. I called the station Tribal. What do I get? Pink Floyd. U2. Beatles.
Mind you I love Pink Floyd, U2, and Beatles. But I don’t want them popping up on my Tribal radio station!
Then it turned out a lot of Mickey Hart hadn’t been given a list of characteristics. Paul Simon had lists for his early work, but not so much for his later, more indigenous stuff. I ended up taking a lot of songs listed out and doing a lot with the thumbs up and thumbs down. I ended up with a total mish-mash. Now I call it Tribal Dance, and pretend the New Age and Disco isn’t there.
Anyway, here’s the station I built. You’re welcome to check it out.