Music agents

July 18, 2006 at 7:58 am | Posted in Music | 1 Comment

I just found MusicLens, which like last.fm and Pandora could be described as a music agent, a piece of software that lets you find out about new music. It’s interesting the way these agents all use different approaches.

  • With last.fm you download some software that monitors what you listen to on your computer; last.fm then plays music based upon your listening habits (and those whose listening habits are similar to yours).
  • Pandora is a flash based music player that lets you define stations by choosing specific songs and then rating others that play; station music is chosen by looking for similarities in parameters assigned to each song by humans.
  • MusicLens lets you just enter a bunch of parameters in manually, and then lists matching songs which can be previewed or used as a basis for further searching. It isn’t clear to me whether the parameters are assigned to songs by computer or by humans.

The thing is, all of these are interesting in theory, but in reality what I end up using most are just internet radio stations, where some random human out there just selects songs. If I like their taste, I’ll probably like some of the songs I’ve never heard before. For me at least, this seems to work better than last.fm or Pandora, both of which tend to result in kind of incoherent music streams, since the songs are picked by computer. But to actively find new music, MusicLens seems like a good approach.

Sanford & Son theme song

February 26, 2006 at 10:47 pm | Posted in Music | 7 Comments

The unsettling sense of chaos at the beginning of this tune got me listening to it a bit more closely, and it’s crazy!

It starts with just bass, and you assume the first note is the one; but then the organ kicks in a half beat off, and you realize that that first bass note was a grace note a half beat *before* the one. But when the bass phrase repeats a second time, you’re off by a half beat again! They’ve inserted an extra half beat just before the second phrase, again tricking you into thinking of it as the one, which is reinforced by the added repetition of the last note two times.

Finally the actual theme starts, with the first note on the second beat of the bass line; at least to me, this adds yet another unexpected hiccup, since it makes the last low bass note sound like it’s a half beat after the one. After that it’s more straightforward, but full of all kinds of cool little tricks and trinkets.

A weird twist on this is that most versions online (e.g. here and here) seem to be slightly different: they skip the extra half beat before the second phrase. Which is the real tune, and why are two versions floating around? Maybe Quincy Jones will pay a visit one day and explain…it’s amazing how much talent and creativity went into a lot of these little TV snippets, and how many people remember them so many years later.

PodBop: Browse local shows and listen to songs from the bands

February 16, 2006 at 8:45 am | Posted in Music | 2 Comments

Wow, PodBop (found via TechCrunch) is the first mashup I actually bookmarked and intend to use. You choose a location, see a list of shows for each date, then can play MP3s for each band playing. The only thing I could ask for would be for the site to also list venue / cost, that about covers the factors deciding whether I’d go to the show.

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.