Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Extensive Vamping

Lately at work, I’ve been turned onto Pandora, an internet radio station, which allows you to tailor the music you hear based upon multiple selections. It is part of the Music Genome Project that was started about ten years ago to create a database of music based upon various attributes in songs. I have no doubt this started with a group of engineers, who on the side played in bands, and also had a geeky love of spreadsheets and databases. This project quite possibly was the ultimate wet dream for them. And, for the rest of us it’s a nice way to learn about other artists and music similar in style to those we already enjoy.

You pick an artist or a genre, and then as each song plays you can either rate it, pass on it or move it to another station if it’s not the appropriate mood or style in that moment. So, the more you listen, the more you tailor the music to songs that appeal to you. My favorite little tool is the button that tells you why that song was selected. You have predictable categories such as acoustic rhythm piano, pop rock qualities, and major key tonality. But then there are a few unexpected ones, such as “extensive vamping”.

When I first saw the category I misread it to be “excessive vamping”, which begs many questions by itself. I’ve since learned that vamping is actually a musical term used to describe a repeating musical figure which would make sense for this site. For me, vamping inspires images of a sultry, saucy woman who is actively seducing or entrapping men. It’s got stiletto heels, cleavage and lush red lips written all over it. And, whether or not it’s excessive or extensive vamping, these songs are keeping me quite inspired while typing away on otherwise mundane tasks.