Unleashing the appreciation for music one song at a time

December 22, 2011 – Legend has it if you open Pandora’s box, which contains all the evils of the world you unleash grave disaster that can’t be undone.

Ah, the Greeks and their wonderful imaginations.

In reality, the name Pandora means, “all gifted” – and gifted she was as the gods bestowed her many gifts, including the gifts of curiosity and music.

Like Pandora, I have a curious side to my personality, and also love music. I love it so much that I never mind getting caught in traffic jams as long as I have a good stereo system in the car. It’s more important to me than a set of good tires.

I recall driving to a concert on a rainy night years ago with my stereo, defrost and windshield wipers going simultaneously. This particular car was about to be put out to pasture, so something had to be turned off if we wanted it to make it there. The old girl just couldn’t take it. Naturally, I turned off the windshield wipers while my friend looked at me in horror before she burst into laughter. And the music played on.

As music lover, I’m almost ashamed to admit that I’ve just discovered the pleasures of Pandora radio, which has been in existence for over 10 years. I’d heard of it before, but really came to appreciate it this week. I know that probably makes me the last one on the planet to hop on board the great radio wave of the Internet.

If you’ve been living under the same rock as I have and aren’t familiar, Pandora is an online radio station that allows you to set up your own playlists of the music you love. It combines my love of curiosity and music because the folks at Pandora will suggest music by new artists that share the same style as your favorite artists. So, not only do you hear good music, but you also discover new songs and artists that most likely match your musical tastes.

Pandora first hit the Internet in 2000 as part of a Music Genome Project, and is touted as the most comprehensive analysis of music ever undertaken. Their teams of musician-analysts listen to thousands of new and old songs from the well-known to the obscure, paying close attention to musical details such as melody, harmony, instrumentation, rhythm, vocals, lyrics and more to partner them with existing musicians or songs that you already love. I’m thrilled with the results they’ve presented to me, but if you find you’re not a fan of what they select for you, you can tweak and refine your selections until they get it right.

I’ll admit I typically shy away from listening to new music on the radio, and usually turn to artists I am familiar with instead. That can easily put you in a musical rut. With Pandora, I’ve discovered it’s not actually the new music I did’t like, but rather the style or artist. Recently they’ve presented two artists new to me, Jack Johnson and Mazzy Star. Both are singer/songwriters I would have most likely passed over, but Pandora knew they would likely appeal to my taste. Additionally, I’ve rediscovered artists like Van Morrison and Dire Straits since Pandora offers the deeper cuts on their albums, over their greatest hits, which makes them seem new again. And to think I was given all of this by simply typing in the name of one of my favorite songs.

Thanks, Pandora. I may have taken the long road to get here, but I’ve arrived and I’m a big fan.


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A girl trying to live the dream.

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