It’s The Most Musical Time of the Year: SXSW 2014

SXSW imageIf you have ever been to South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference and Festival, you know that 6th Street is like a musical pulse running through the heart of Austin.  Live music comes pouring out from every direction as attendees file down the closed off street, their ears guiding their next move.  For music lovers, it’s a magical experience.  At Pandora, we love getting to bring the thrill of discovering an artist to life through live performances, but we also don’t want you to miss out if you can’t make it to Austin for SXSW.  That’s why we’ll be live streaming all four days of our third annual Pandora Discovery Den.
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Inside Song: Guitar Twang, Cookie Monster Vocals and Other Crucial Minutia

Twenty people are silently gathered around a table, heads bowed in concentration, listening closely.

“Did you hear it?”

“I feel like I heard it, but only in a couple tiny parts.”

“Really? I can totally hear it!”

“Wait, play it again, I’m not exactly sure what we’re listening for.”

“No, no, no! I’ve got the perfect example. Here, check this out.”

Someone else cracks open a laptop, starts playing a different song at the same time, people chime in with their opinions, voices and music overlap, it gets heated, and suddenly we’re in full-voiced debate like a mob of British Parliamentarians.

Pandora’s Music Analyst Team

The burning issue at hand: identifying and scoring guitar twang. You know, that sproingy nasal boing of a plucked string, often associated with Country music. Twang can be produced through picking technique, by location of the pick on the neck, by the choice of pick-ups on the guitar, or by the amplifier in use. Each of those twangs sound a little different. And what about twang on the acoustic guitar? What if a steel-string guitar is used to pluck a few twangy notes now and then so you know that greater twang exists, even if it’s mostly strummed? The brain kind of fills in greater twang awareness during the less twangy strummed sections. How should we acknowledge brain twang?
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