If you've ever wanted to hear the difference between traditional funk and Memphis soul, or understand where they fit in the context of more than 1300 musical genres, you might want to clear your schedule. An interactive project called Every Noise at Once is about to devour the rest of your day.
According to project creator and "genre taxonomist" Glenn McDonald:
[Every Noise at Once] is an ongoing attempt at an algorithmically-generated, readability-adjusted scatter-plot of the musical genre-space, based on data tracked and analyzed for 1374 genres by The Echo Nest. The calibration is fuzzy, but in general down is more organic, up is more mechanical and electric; left is denser and more atmospheric, right is spikier and bouncier.
Per Wikipedia, "Echo Nest was a research spin-off from the MIT Media Lab to understand the audio and textual content of recorded music."
At first glance, ENO's 2-dimensional plot looks a little facile, but with a little digging things get more nuanced. Clicking on a genre, for instance, lets you listen to a representative sample of music, and clicking the ">>" symbol directs you to another scatterplot of artists affiliated with the genre. Clicking the ">>" symbol beside each artist takes you to that artist's spotify page. Other, related scatterplots include "A Retromatic History of Music" (which, like Google's "Music Timeline," maps genres over time) and the self-explanatory "Genres by Country."
The rabbit hole, in other words, is deeper than it looks. If you're a fan of music and data, Every Noise at Once has serious time-suck potential. Check it out.
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