(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘genres

“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

“I’ll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours”*…




From Glenn Macdonald (in his capacity as Spotify’s genre taxonomist– or as he put’s it “mechanic of the spiritual compases of erratic discovery robots that run on love”)

This is a mapping of genres to words, and words to genres, using words that are used distinctively in the titles of songs. A genre’s words are ranked by how disproportionately they appear in that genre’s songs’ titles compared to all songs. A word’s genres are ranked by the position of that word in each genre’s word list. 1525 genres and 4712 words qualify.

Visit “Genres in Their Own Words”  And while you’re there, explore the genre map and the other nifty resources at Glenn’s site, Every Noise At Once.

* Bob Dylan


As we slip on the headphones, we might spare a thought for Sir George Henry Martin; he died on this date in 2016.  A record producer, arranger, composer, conductor, audio engineer, and musician, Martin began his career as a producer of comedy and novelty records in the early 1950s, working with Peter SellersSpike Milligan, and Bernard Cribbins, among others.  In 1962, while working at EMI/Parlophone, Martin was so impressed by Brian Epstein’s enthusiasm, that he agreed to record the Beatles before seeing or hearing them (and despite the fact that they’d been turned down by Decca).

Martin went on to produce 23 number ones on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, 19 of which were by The Beatles.  Indeed, Paul McCartney referred to Martin as “the fifth Beatle.”  He also produced chart topping hits for McCartney (“Say Say Say” with Michael Jackson and “Ebony and Ivory” with Stevie Wonder), Elton John (“Candle in the Wind”) and America (“Sister Golden Hair”).


George Harrison, Paul McCartney, George Martin, and John Lennon in the studio in 1966


Written by (Roughly) Daily

March 8, 2019 at 1:01 am

I dream of genre…


Used to be, a listener had pretty simple choices; record stores and radio stations were organized into a just a few genres:  pop, rock, country, jazz, classical…  Now, of course, new musical styles and movements emerge seemingly daily.  Glenn McDonald is here to help the poor fan navigate the confusion.  His interactive “map” of music (a small section of which, above), Hear Every Noise, lets one move through genres– clustered in ways explained here— hear examples of each, then click through to the artists playing under each banner…  hours of listening pleasure (and an education in the metastasizing music scene).


As we tap our toes, we might recall that it was on this date in 1859 that an American settler on San Juan Island, near Seattle, shot the pig of a (British) Hudson’s Bay Company employee and ignited The Pig War, a dispute rooted in the confusion over the boundary between the U.S. and Canada (specifically, the status of a group of islands in the Strait of Juan de Fuca).  Militaries from both sides were invoked and the situation escalated so that, by August 461 Americans with 14 cannon stood opposed by five British warships mounting 70 guns and carrying 2,140 men.

The governor of the Colony of Vancouver Island ordered British Rear Admiral Robert L. Baynes to land marines on San Juan Island and engage the American soldiers there under the command of Brigadier-General Harney.  Baynes refused, declaring that “two great nations in a war over a squabble about a pig” was foolish.  Harney had given his men essentially the same orders: defend yourselves, but do not fire the first shot.  For several days, the British and U.S. soldiers exchanged insults, each side attempting to goad the other into firing the first shot; but discipline held.  Ultimately the powers-that-be in Washington and London reached a compromise…  and the Pig War was resolved with only a single casualty– the pig.

The red line represents Britain’s pre-war boundary claim; the blue line, that of the U.S. The green line is the compromise reached.



Written by (Roughly) Daily

June 15, 2013 at 1:01 am

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