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The Pandora Team http://www.pandora.com/

More Marriage of Classical and Jazz :: The Musicology Show :: Vol. 47

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mays
Pianist Bill Mays returns to lead us step by step through a recent composition of his called “Fantasy, Movement One.” He shows us the motifs and elements as they progress, calls out where improvisation led the players away from the printed notes, and introduces us to the tones of the other musicians on the session, who are Alisa Horn on cello and Marvin Stamm on trumpet and flugelhorn. (9 mins.)

Play Listen Repeat Vol. 40

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Mike Seeger’s Old Time Music

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The music that we’re speaking of is a cultural resource that we’ve built up over thousands of years… Before we had radio and phonographs… The music from these earlier, old times endured through the generations because of its rich and varied sounds and lyrics and because it filled the needs of the people, who, after all, created it for themselves.Mike Seeger
As many of you probably know, Mike Seeger died on August 7. I’ve been listening to some of his work and thought it would be cool to have some company, so I’ve made a station called Mike Seeger’s Old Time Dream, based on our collections of Mike Seeger’s music as well as our collection of the New Lost City Ramblers, the group that he founded and played with for more than 50 years.
Mike Seeger was a key participant and leader in the “old time music” movement, and if you’re not familiar with this music, you’re on the threshold of a very cool discovery. Even if you ultimately decide you don’t particularly like it (doubtful, I bet), old time music’s acoustic instrumentation, rough performances, and old shared songs preserve a powerful way of making music (and perhaps of living).
Old time music lets us hear the sound of music as it must have been before recordings were common. Back when performances would have been more idiosyncratic, less standardized, and would have come out in the same ways of speaking and being that the people used in everyday life.
It also takes old, unattributed songs as a main part of its repertoire. These days, assuming someone wanted to write those kinds of songs, modern copyright laws might make sharing them difficult, at least in their recorded form. But songs that were shared freely in the ongoing, practical use and performance of the songs by people in their homes would live on, as the traditional repertoire has for so long.
Mike Seeger’s Old Time Dream, indeed.
There is so much to hear and ask about this music, but I’ll beg off here and let Mike Seeger do the real work. Looking forward to hearing comments, and thanks for reading and listening!
best,
mz

Viewer Mail – Why does Pandora only play music?

Listeners often wonder why Pandora doesn’t play news or sports or talk radio programming. Here, Tim Westergren answers that question and asks for a few new ones.<!– –>

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For questions answered elsewhere please check our FAQ, but also please explore: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9.
You can subscribe to Pandora videos on YouTube as well, and it’s free. Click on the yellow button in the left nav once you get there.

Play Listen Repeat Vol. 39

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Some of the Best Music Expresses Nothing at All

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I’ve been listening to a lot of J. S. Bach lately, as well as bits of Thomas Tallis, Josquin, and similar pre-Classical Era composers. Often as I listen to these pieces of music, I find myself thinking: this music expresses nothing.
The power of a piece like this may well be that it can’t be broken down into any kind of meaning other than the meaning that it seems to have as we hear it unfold. Perhaps that helps to explain why, even as it has no message, it still seems to express information that seems both deep and somehow true as well.
In any case, I have become addicted to the experience of listening to these pieces and searching for the meaning in them. I never find anything I can really point to, but that’s meaningful in and of itself, just like the experience, say, of looking at a tree might be. What do I make of a tree? What does it express? Everything and nothing, I suppose.
I’ve made a station for you. It’s called “Inexpressible Radio.” Take a listen and ask yourself: what is this music saying? If it says nothing, then why does it also seem to make so much sense?

6 things I bet you will notice:
1. The pieces are beautiful.
2. The pieces are extraordinary things for a person to have conceived and written.
3. The pieces are evidence that the people who lived centuries ago may not have been all that different from us.
4. The pieces that have no words (especially the solo piano pieces) are the ones that seem most abstract. They seem to be full of a kind of meaning as you are listening to them, but once they are done, there seems to be no takeaway message.
5. The choral pieces seem more expressive than the solo piano pieces do.
6. Listening to these pieces of music is a really great way to spend some time!
I hope you enjoy and find some new music, and I’ll look forward to your comments.
best,
mz

The Marriage of Classical and Jazz :: The Musicology Show :: Vol. 46

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Bill Mays
Pianist Bill Mays has had an illustrious career mixing jazz improvisation with classical composition, and his albums in the third-stream movement have helped move the genre forward. Here Pandora’s Steve Ginsberg and I talk with Mays about the relationship between classical and jazz, and about Mays’ history with both, starting with the night he heard Miles Davis live in the late 1950s. The music in this piece is provided by the Inventions Trio, featuring Marvin Stamm on trumpet and flugelhorn, Alisa Horn on cello, and Mays on piano. (10 mins.)

On the One ———- big changes/small steps ———- Vol. 1

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Over the last year and a half substantial changes were made to the Pandora listening experience. While we’re constantly improving the playlist algorithm, analyzing new music, etc., it’s rare for Pandora to make such a huge change to the music genome as was completed on our Electronic Music genome. In the last 18 months, not only did we greatly expand the size and quality of our electronic catalog, but we also upgraded the analysis process — reanalyzing over 42,000 tracks along the way.
The analysis upgrade consisted of three steps. The first was enabling the music genome to more accurately catalog the subtleties and compositional techniques of Electronic Music. We did this by recognizing new genes ranging from arpeggiated synthesizers to build-ups and breakdowns. With these new genes in hand there was a nasty problem: none of our previously analyzed tracks contained data for them. The only solution was to go back and reanalyze them. Yes, all 42,000 of them!
This second step in the upgrade process involved a team of music analysts working for over three months. If the average track length was four minutes, that’s over 2,700 hours of music reanalyzed!!! Yes, our ears and brains were quite sore when all was said and done, but we haven’t stopped. Our Electronic Music collection currently contains over 66,000 analyzed tracks.
Anyway, the third and final step in the upgrade was making sense of this new data by adjusting the importance of each gene and how it interacts with its neighbors. This process can best be described as taste testing. We had the basic formula down, but to achieve that seemingly elusive, most delicious blend, took many late nights and countless tweaks. A little heavier on the synth effects and a tad less vocal vibrato, a pinch more harmony and a touch less backbeat…
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With the Dance Genome now having more dexterity to analyze the electronic soundscape, and the ability to generate more specialized playlists, it was time to populate our collection. The primary aim here was to get a good sampling of everything being spun by DJs in clubs, bumped at backyard BBQs, played in retail locations, or geeked out on headphones — the whole spectrum of Electronic music. With the DJ/Electronic music boutiques and music megastores having migrated to the Internet, to places such as iTunes, Amazon, Beatport, Traxsource, Juno, Stompy, Turntable Lab, DJ Hut (to name just a few… the list could go on), this process was actually quite efficient (and enjoyable!). In our effort to maintain a collection that is deep and diverse, the digital only online boutiques have been essential. Once hard-to-find singles, remixes, unmixed DJ-friendly compilations, instrumental versions of Hip Hop albums, and out of print classics are a few clicks away. Although, at times, I do miss the good ole days of waking up at noon and thumbing through massive stacks of records at Amoeba, Housewares, Primal, or Tweekin’ for a small stack of nuggets… that’s a topic for another time.
Today we are pleased to introduce some fruits of this labor, a new lineup of Electronic/Dance genre stations. They are as follows:
Club/Dance
House
Deep House
Progressive/Electro House
Techno
Minimal Techno
Trance
Psy-trance
Hard Dance
Drum & Bass
Liquid Drum & Bass
Dubstep
Funky Breaks
Progressive Breaks
Downtempo
Deep Beats
Trip Hop
Global Chill
Turntablism & Beat Science
Indie Dance/Electro
Bmore, Bass & Baile
Electronica/IDM
Experimental Electronica
Ambient
We hope you enjoy listening to these stations as much as we enjoyed curating them. Over the next few months we’ll be making adjustments and fine tuning them a bit. So if you have any feedback, now is the time. Whether it’s on a particular genre station or one of your own stations, please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts.
Chris Horgan [senior music analyst]
Michael Addicott [dance collection manager]
BTW — This happens to be the first post in a new blog series on Pandora — On the One. Headed by our dynamic duo of Mike Addicott and Chris Horgan, On the One focuses on the worlds of Dance, Electronic, and Rap music. You can expect posts ranging from the newest rhythms and production styles to musical roots and discussions of underground classics. Let the music play!
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Pre-production :: The Musicology Show :: Vol. 45

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V.E.R.A. Clique
As the one-man band of Palefighter, Matthew Carano has learned a lot about how to streamline the recording process, and how to use pre-production to his benefit. In this show, we’ll focus on sketching and recording demos, and how to sculpt a song as it goes through its various incarnations and drafts.

Recorded and edited by Tyler Brown at Bellboy Recording in Richmond CA. (10 mins.)

Third Annual Poster Contest

blog-post.jpgCalling all artists, designers, and art lovers! I’m very pleased to announce the third annual Pandora Poster Contest, sponsored this year by Levi’s.

For the past two years we have asked you, our talented listeners, to design a poster about Pandora. The results have been amazing. Each year, we choose three poster designs to print in limited editions. These posters are given as gifts to donors to our GlobalGiving philanthropy projects.

Now it’s time to to do it again.

The task is the still same: create a poster about Pandora. The rest is up to your imagination. Feel free to explore themes of music, technology, philanthropy, music education, or whatever moves your muse. One thing we ask is that you don’t redesign our logo. In addition to sharing your creative imagination, you will be helping us to support youth music education around the world.

We plan to announce three winners again this year: Grand Prize, Runner Up, and Editor’s Choice. The Grand Prize winner will receive $500, the Runner Up will receive $250, and the Editor’s Choice winner will receive $500. All three will also include some great publicity on our blog.

We’re eager to see where your creativity takes us this year!

Enter a poster now!

Dan
Creative Director

2008 Winners:

Grand Prize Winner

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Artist: Rebecca Zaharia

Runner-up

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Artist: Hadley Rouse

Editor’s Choice

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Artist: Mandy Gordon

2007 Winners:

Grand Prize Winner

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Artist: Charles Badua

1st Runner-up

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Artist: Dora Radut

2nd Runner-up

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Artist: Andy Yamashiro

Enter or vote now
Poster specs

Viewer Mail – How Do I Get More Variety On My Stations?

We get asked these questions often: How can my stations have more variety? My station plays the same songs — how can I expand the repertoire?
The video below answers that, as well as this one: How can I hear the maximum number of songs by one artist?
If you have any questions that you’d like to have answered, just flip on your webcam or other video camera, tell us your name and where you’re from, and then record yourself asking the question. Then, send us that video file and we’ll do our best to answer your question on-camera.
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For questions answered elsewhere please check our FAQ, but also please explore: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9.
We’re also pleased to announced our new Pandora channel on YouTube. Subscriptions are free; just click on the yellow button in the left nav once you get there.

Famous Rock Drummers :: The Musicology Show :: Vol. 44

Jeff AnthonyPremiering today is “Famous Rock Drummers,” in which Jeff Anthony (pictured) reverse-engineers the signature sounds of John Bonham, Neil Peart, Vinnie Colaiuta and Dave Grohl.
As always, it’s free to subscribe to “The Musicology Show” in iTunes or in any other feedcatcher (Google Reader, Juice, etc.)
Just scroll down on the main podcast page to hear those 40+ earlier episodes, or jump straight to the category pages on Composition, Styles, Singing, Instruments and Rhythm.