It was 1983; I was in seventh grade, a year equally filled with excitement and fear. It was the year that I left my left my Bay Area private school for public school, leaving a sheltered bubble behind for a school with scary looking longhaired kids in denim jackets, Mötley Crüe and Iron Maiden patches. It was the year that I would attend my first ever school dance.
Have you ever had an old song transport you back in time to the moment when it soundtracked an important part of your life? Pandora’s Class Of 1983 station not only reminded me how much awesome music was born 30 years ago – everything from Madonna’s eponymous debut to Slayer’s first album Show No Mercy – but a lot of these songs pulled me right back to the year I became a teenager.
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When you think about your favorite song what characteristics stick out to you? Perhaps you notice the vocal range of the singer, the tempo or maybe the type of instruments in the song. Do you consider the vamping harmony? …wait, what?
In the course of analyzing a single piece of music, our Music Analysts will consider upwards of 400 distinct musical characteristics, some straightforward, like tempo or the gender of a vocalist, and some more esoteric. For today’s blog post, I thought it would be fun to discuss one of the slightly arcane elements of the Music Genome that Pandora uses to help build your stations: Vamping Harmony.
In the context of music, a vamp is a short sequence of chords that gets repeated for an extended period. It can be used as a verb, as in “the band vamped while the singer made her way to the stage,” or as a noun, as in “the band played a short vamp while the singer made her way to the stage.”
Vamping harmony can be a good choice if your goal is to focus attention on other elements of a song, such as lyrics, or rhythmic groove. A good vamp can lend a hypnotic quality to music, especially when combined with some infectious rhythms. James Brown was a master at this. Check out his classic “Superbad, parts 1 & 2” for a great example. In this case, the band vamps on a single chord for nearly the whole song. Read More →
As a college student in the early-2000s I would kill time between classes by heading to the local record shop and scoping the overwhelming batch of new releases. I still remember that killer autumn of ‘03 when The Strokes, Elvis Costello, Belle & Sebastian and Outkast all hit. Many of these songs are still on heavy rotation for me – it’s hard to believe that was ten years ago! The fall of 2013 has the potential to be another memorable year for music across many genres. Everyone from Jay-Z to Jimmy Eat World, Hanson to Daft Punk released new material this year and that’s not it – there is a massive list of artists slated for end-of-the-year releases.
New music is set to drop from some of the industry’s biggest names this year: Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, M.I.A., Drake, Eminem, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, Keith Urban, Sting, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Cher, Celine Dion, Chris Brown, Pusha T, Future, Kings of Leon, Pearl Jam, Arcade Fire and Arctic Monkeys. Joining this group of heavyweight releases are debut studio albums from some of 2013’s most talked about up-and-comers including Lorde, Haim and Icona Pop.
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With today’s release of Pandora 5.0 on iOS devices, you will see some refinements to our logo, our app icon, and our visual design. These changes will also be available soon on our website and Android devices. I wanted to take a moment to share the thinking that led to these changes.
When I joined Pandora as its first CMO, I was drawn to the company for a singular reason: it has a clear mission. The principle that drove Tim to start the Music Genome Project in 1999 – to help people enjoy and discover music they love while connecting working artists with new fans – remains the central mission of Pandora today.
Now, almost two years later, I know first hand the commitment and pride of the people who work at Pandora. Our listener support team personally answers each of the tens of thousands of emails we receive each month, usually the same day. Professional musicians and musicologists spend up to an hour meticulously analyzing each song that goes into the Music Genome Project in order to make better recommendations. Curators, music programmers, data scientists and engineers work together to solve the challenge of making better musical connections for each and every listener. Read More →
We’ve found that Pandora listeners love their tablets and will listen to Pandora pretty much wherever their tablets will go: in the kitchen, the office, the living room, the dining room, the bedroom, the garage, the back yard – even in the shower. (In which case, we assume the tablet is nearby or utilizing a properly tested waterproof case.)
So we are excited to announce the new Pandora 5.0 for iPad. With this latest version of the Pandora mobile app, we’re bringing a host of new features to the iPad while enhancing and optimizing the experience for the larger iPad screen size.
We’re on a constant mission to provide our listeners with the best possible listening experience – across all devices – so this new Pandora for iPad app includes a number of updates as a direct response to what our listeners told us they wanted most.
New features include enhanced playback and personalization, deeper music discovery and exploration, easy access to a personalized music profile and the ability to connect and share music with friends. Read More →
Remember back in grade school when we all dreaded going back to school? There was all that back to school shopping, and then there was the very first day back in class when our shoes and backpacks were so new you could smell them a mile away.
Thankfully, we’re older now and we can do our own shopping. Or we can just put on the same stuff that we wore last year. But who wants to listen to nothing but last year’s hits? It’s way too soon to get nostalgic for 2012.
That said, we’ve put together some sweet Back to School stations that are ripe with fresh new jams, like our Back to School Hits 2013 station. But don’t worry – there are also some well-worn tunes that fit just as comfortably as last year’s jeans. Read More →