The Insider with Robert Harley -- Pandora Podcasts

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The Insider with Robert Harley -- Pandora Podcasts

A Great Web Site Gets Better

A powerful feature of electronic-content delivery is the ability to tailor the content you receive to your specific interests. This concept is beautifully demonstrated by Pandora, an Internet-radio Web site that streams music to your computer based on the type of music you like. You simply tell Pandora a few tracks that are representative of your favorite music, and a sophisticated algorithm finds other music with similar characteristicsâsuch as instrumentation, rhythm, and melody and streams that music to your computer. Pandora exposes you to lots of music you'll probably like but have never heard of. The service is completely free.

Pandora is an extension of the Music Genome Project, an endeavor that attempts to analyze properties of music to predict hits as well as to group and categorize music. More than 400 musical attributes are incorporated in the analysis algorithms.

The Pandora site has become even more useful with the recent addition of the Pandora Podcast Series a fascinating tutorials on elements of music, instruments, and recording technology. For example, the podcast "Electric Guitar Effects" is a nine-minute audio clip that explains how different effects such as tremolo, chorus, delay, and distortion affect a guitar's sound, and how those effects have been used in popular songs. The podcast's host narrator is accompanied by a musician who demonstrates the sounds described. The podcast "Drums and Drumming, Part 1" even includes musical examples of well-known songs that illustrate the different rhythmic patterns and drumming techniques explained by the guest musician.

Here's how Pandora describes its podcasts:

"Ever wonder how a band creates its unique sound, or what makes a particular song so distinctive?"

"As we spend our days dissecting tracks for the Music Genome Project, it occurs to us that most people don't get to hear songs before they're finished. We thought it might be interesting for folks to learn more about what goes into songwriting. These podcasts are our attempt to give you an inside look at the techniques musicians use to put their signature on the music they write and perform."