(Roughly) Daily

“If you cannot teach me to fly, teach me to sing”*…



A map of “chutney,” a genre based in the southern Caribbean, especially Trinidad and Tobago, which was most popular in the 1980s


You could argue that on the face of it, the project Every Noise At Once feels like staring into the abyss, and that the abyss is a completely straight line. The site, designed by Glenn McDonald, is an effort to visually map all the world’s musical genres algorithmically using Spotify data. Through the miracle of computer programming, the collective artistic genius and work of diverse individuals and cultures is flattened out into a single sprawling word cloud, with rock genres cluttering in the center, and other more remote musics pulsing off in seemingly stochastic drifts. Some might view it as a sign of impending doom, I suppose. But you could also see it as beautiful, fractal representation of the joys to be had in crossing cultures and musical styles; a vision of a world with the walls taken out…

McDonald is cheerfully upfront about the fact that Every Noise At Once isn’t a definitive single view of the world of music, but a discussion about possible landscapes. “Our computers can now enter plausibly into arguments over almost 500 genres, from a cappella to zydeco,” he says in an explanation of the project. Genres are always fuzzy, porous, and changeable anyway. Every Noise at Once updates and rearranges itself regularly, offering not a single vision of global sound, but a more tentative invitation to explore outside of your comfort zone.

And exploring is really a blast. It’s great fun to scroll around the map, looking for genres you’ve never heard of, and taking a moment to try to figure out what it is, where it’s from, and what it sounds like…

An attempt to map every music genre that exists, no matter how obscure: “Every Noise at Once” does its darnedest to create order out of chaos.  Explore for yourself here.

* Sir James Barrie, Peter Pan


As we hum along, we might recall that it was on this date in 1986 that Dan Rather began to sign off his CBS Evening News broadcasts with the word “courage.”  He insisted that it was just a signature line and had nothing to do with the news at the time.  In any case, other newscasters ridiculed and parodied Rather, and he dropped it one week later.


Written by (Roughly) Daily

September 1, 2019 at 1:01 am

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