Here’s a cool new music site. The premise of the site, musicovery.com, is simple: you pick a mood (somewhere between the poles of “energetic,” “dark,” “calm,” or “positive”), select a few musical genres and a favorite decade, and then the site automatically finds songs that reflect your state of mind. It’s affective reverse-engineering.
For someone like me, who habitually self-medicates with music, musicovery is a fun helper. Although I might quibble with a few of their suggestions – late Herbie Hancock isn’t very soothing – the site has certainly expanded my musical mood horizons. (My normal routine is to use music to exaggerate my mood, which means that if I’m depressed then I’ll put on “Blood on the Tracks.” That’s not recommended.) I find that musicovery actually encourages me to use music to counterbalance my moods, so if I’m sleepy I’ll set the dial to “energetic” and wake up sans caffeine to some Sonny Rollins or Feist or Jerry Lee Lewis.
As neuroscience continues to re-discover the importance of emotion for many different cognitive processes, I wonder if products like musicovery will become a new trend. After all, shouldn’t we pay more attention to our moods? Shouldn’t we learn how to cultivate our more agreeable emotions? Some people are already starting to do something similar with cookbooks, organizing recipes according to mood, instead of ingredient.
The big downside to such an endeavor is that turning our surroundings into a form of emotional medication will lead to some pretty banal surroundings. Look, for example, at retail stores, which have made a science out of muzak. The piped in sound might be soothing, but the best songs are never soothing. The best songs are always tragic love songs. Angst makes art.
Hat Tip: VSL