Pandora, you don’t know me

So I am experimenting with Pandora Radio, because people told me I should, and it’s on my newfangled Droid thingy, so I figured, why not.

It has its good points.  For one, I actually listen to music outside of my car now, which before recently was something I almost never did.  It was just how I treated music — it was compartmentalized to car rides, and usually longer drives when I couldn’t just listen to NPR the whole way.  And since I spent a lot of time in choirs, making music, it just never seemed to be something I lacked or needed to fill space with.  (I also spent waaaay too much time filling the space with video games, but that’s another story.)

Despite this pleasant addition of more sound to my daily life, however, I have a severe beef with Pandora Radio.  Namely, it doesn’t have a clue who I am.  Consider the alternate title of this post “In Defense of the Eclectic.”

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“…every blow of the great convulsive drums…”

I read this article today about a computer that creates music.  A reader at Andrew Sullivan’s blog outlined some of why it bothers me, especially in its assumption that all composers do is follow logical rules in their composition.  But the following quotation stands out:

In [Cope’s] view, all music — and, really, any creative pursuit — is largely based on previously created works. Call it standing on the shoulders of giants; call it plagiarism. Everything we create is just a product of recombination.

I don’t really mind him thinking this latter part, that creation is a process of recombination.  There’s not a lot going on in our heads, if you ask me, that wasn’t fed to us by society and education and culture.  But to assume that the process is mechanical, that the recombination doesn’t have intent behind it or doesn’t synthesize something in a new or profound way, that doesn’t seem right.

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