Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

The Music Genome Project

I have weird music tastes, which sometimes makes it hard to find new artists that really knock my socks off. I’ve often wondered why no one creates a musical “family tree” of related bands and music, and I’ve found some passable attempts, but none so useful as Pandora.

The point of the website is to find more bands and music that you’ll like, using music you already like, and create a radio station for you. Pandora was created by the Music Genome Project, a group of musical sorts who wanted to create a way to analyze music on a basic level, as if musical attributes were “genes.”

We ended up assembling literally hundreds of musical attributes or “genes” into a very large Music Genome. Taken together these genes capture the unique and magical musical identity of a song – everything from melody, harmony and rhythm, to instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and of course the rich world of singing and vocal harmony. It’s not about what a band looks like, or what genre they supposedly belong to, or about who buys their records – it’s about what each individual song sounds like.

Over the past 6 years, we’ve carefully listened to the songs of over 10,000 different artists – ranging from popular to obscure – and analyzed the musical qualities of each song one attribute at a time.

Its a cool idea, lets see if it pans out.

Hat tip necta.


  1. #1 xenophobic
    March 15, 2007

    I use Last.Fm for such things. While I admit it has only introduced me to two or so new artists it has been kind of cool looking over what I’ve been listening to. The charts the site keeps track of are pretty interesting.
    I will have to check out Pandora, though. I am in need of new music.

  2. #2 jonathan
    March 15, 2007

    Pandora is excellent for finding new music that you’d be unlikely to find otherwise and I guess that the more people who use it, the more accurate it should become.

    I’ve been using Last.Fm for a while, too, which is well worth a play with. It’s easier to use the music that you already have to create a database of your tastes.

    You also have a lot of readers who probably have some pretty strange tastes too, ask away! J

  3. #3 Joy
    March 16, 2007

    I’ve been using Pandora for the past 18 months, and it has been an amazing resource for finding new lesser known artists that I really like. As far as I can see, it has probably resulted in finding a few hundred new singers/bands. I use it in conjunction with with the Pandora Realityfm mashup, and that creates a history of every song I’ve ever listened to.

    I must say, Pandora and a free Napster subscription from my university is god-send for all my music needs.

  4. #4 Tanath
    March 16, 2007

    Pandora is great, but unfortunately it may not be around much longer:

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