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Ovation – Pandora Radio And The Music Genome Project®.

10/21/2012

When I was a kid, it was a really big deal to have a “cassette recorder”.  For the first time, average people could carry a relatively small and portable piece of equipment designed to record sound.  Of course, shortly thereafter, cassette tapes became the popular format for selling and enjoying music from artists of all kinds.  The cassette player replaced the eight-track player in new cars as the turntable slowly began to sink into music history.

I inherited a deep love of music from my grandfather.  He spent hours and hours, much to my grandmother’s annoyance, with his cassette deck in front of his stereo, recording his record collection onto the new format for posterity.  What if, after all, they stopped making record players and he wouldn’t be able to listen to his collection?  He would painstakingly catalogue each cassette by handwriting the names of each tune and at approximately what spot on the tape each could be found.  If a neighbor’s dog barked, he’d often start over in order to create the clearest recording of his recording.  Of course, once in a while an outside noise would make its way onto one of his recordings.

I had a similar plan.  Of course, I, too, recorded my favorite LPs onto cassette tapes so that I could listen to them in my car.  The biggest accomplishment of the day, however, would be to catch the newest Top 40 hit as it was played on the radio and record it.  This was quite the challenge, I recall, as a disc jockey would usually be talking over the first few chords and then again as the last notes were completed.  To be the first of your friends to capture the best recording resulted in one being quite popular as the others would take turns copying your new copy.

Today, most recorded music is created, enjoyed, purchased and sold electronically via many media outlets including the internet.  One of my favorite resources is Pandora.com.  Beginning in 2000, the Music Genome Project, a vast database representing musical analysis spanning all music from the Renaissance and Classical periods through the present.  Pandora.com, utilizing this database, is able to determine each individual’s unique relationship with music to create and maintain a personal online radio station that caters to our specific musical tastes.

And they do it for free.

Most of today’s computers feature exceptionally good sound quality so why not choose a “Joplin” station to listen to while you do housework, a “BeeGees” station while you work out, or “Celine Dion” as you drift off to sleep.  Pandora.com uses each listener’s input to determine which song from the database is played next depending on his or her likes and dislikes.  If, for example, one doesn’t enjoy Sousa marches they won’t be played again.

Many of today’s listeners enjoy satellite radio that features many different stations to categorize songs from throughout history.  Pandora.com takes it a step further and personalizes the music for each user.

We’ve certainly come a long way since the days of making “mix tapes” of our favorite songs so that we could take them with us.  On the other hand, I still have a few of my grandfather’s cassette tapes.  I’ll cherish them forever even though I don’t have a cassette deck.

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