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Virtual Music Critic?

Dave the Gnome 15 Oct 12 - 07:39 AM
GUEST,matt milton 15 Oct 12 - 07:51 AM
GUEST,999 15 Oct 12 - 07:56 AM
GUEST,matt milton 15 Oct 12 - 07:56 AM
Dave the Gnome 15 Oct 12 - 08:06 AM
Dave the Gnome 15 Oct 12 - 08:12 AM
Newport Boy 15 Oct 12 - 08:35 AM
GUEST,matt milton 15 Oct 12 - 08:55 AM
GUEST,matt milton 15 Oct 12 - 08:57 AM
GUEST,999 15 Oct 12 - 09:05 AM
GUEST,leeneia 15 Oct 12 - 09:12 AM
Dave the Gnome 15 Oct 12 - 09:47 AM
MGM·Lion 15 Oct 12 - 11:34 AM
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Subject: Virtual Music Critic?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 15 Oct 12 - 07:39 AM

we have had an iPod for some time now but I have only just started to investigate the more advanced features. One of them is 'Genius Mix' in which it will pick a playlist from 'songs which are similar'. Not tried it yet but I am quite intrigued as to how the software does this. I would assume by some sort of rating system in the meta-code of the music file but it did set me thinking. Could an electronic analyser do better than a music critic?

A lot of arguments, especialy on here, are to do with taste. Musical tastes are very subjective but a virtual critic could do away with all preconceptions and analyse the music objectively. Is the music of a similar nature? Is the tempo the same? The key? The timbre of the voice? So on and so forth. OK, I know we could end up with recommendations for the latest X-Factor winner when we really like The Acid Mothers Temple but, what the heck, if the music is similar surely we should give it a try?

No-one really takes much notice of critics anyway. Well, maybe that is unfair. I don't take any notice whatsoever of critics. Maybe some people do. Perhaps if we were to include the objective 'This is similar to x, y and z' rather than the subjective 'This is crap' then those who presume to tell us what is good and bad would carry more authority?

Anyone of you software whizzes up for it? :-)

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Virtual Music Critic?
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 15 Oct 12 - 07:51 AM

"a virtual critic could do away with all preconceptions and analyse the music objectively. Is the music of a similar nature? Is the tempo the same? The key? The timbre of the voice? So on and so forth."

For me this sums up the fallacy of what you're pondering about. What does "music of a similar nature" even mean? It certainly DOESN'T mean it has a similar tempo, key or vocal timbre.

You also seem to be implying that a critic's role is to identify similarities between different songs, rather like those maths questions at school that required you to identify which triangle was a congruent triangle.

That's a rather strange way of describing what a critic does. Anyway, you already have that, in a way: the Amazon recommendations thing. "People who bought X also bought Y". Sometimes that works, sometimes it's ludicrously off...


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Subject: RE: Virtual Music Critic?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 15 Oct 12 - 07:56 AM

Pandora has had it for years. Lord knows how it selects various singers/songs for play. I don't.


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Subject: RE: Virtual Music Critic?
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 15 Oct 12 - 07:56 AM

"Perhaps if we were to include the objective 'This is similar to x, y and z' rather than the subjective 'This is crap' then those who presume to tell us what is good and bad would carry more authority?"

That's the thing though - it's not necessarily "objective" to say "this is similar to x, y and z".
You mention Acid Mothers Temple - well, I quite like some Acid Mothers Temple, but I hate plenty of stuff that would be considered "objectively" similar to it. I like Nick Drake but I hate all those lily-livered Nick Drake copyist singer-songwriters. I like Billy Childish but I'm totally bored by all the other 60s garage punk copyists in that scene...

...it's like saying if you like David Hockney's "A Bigger Splash", you might like some other paintings that also have blue in them.


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Subject: RE: Virtual Music Critic?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 15 Oct 12 - 08:06 AM

So then, Matt, you tell us what doesn't constitute similar music. Tell us what does. Without kicking off the whole 'what is XXX music?' debate! The examples I quoted before were just that. Examples, not definitives.

As to what I am implying - Maybe an electronic analyser could make a better job of that than you have :-) I am neither implying any such thing or attempting to describe what a critic does. Just postulating that subjective analysis can be very flawed while scientific analysis, done correctly, can be proven to be true. Can this principle be applied to Music? As you say, Amazon already does it but can be quite flawed.

Is there a better way?

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Virtual Music Critic?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 15 Oct 12 - 08:12 AM

...and, Yes Bruce - Pandora was pretty good. can't get in the UK any more :-(

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Virtual Music Critic?
From: Newport Boy
Date: 15 Oct 12 - 08:35 AM

I think choice of music is like Anne's criteria for wine. She knows whether it's white or red, and she knows whether she likes it or not. Apart from a general preference for red, I can't distinguish any common factors in her choice.

My choice of music is the same - apart from a general preference for most forms of music over 1980-2012 pop, I can't tell you which piece of music I will like from any of the definable characteristics.

This has the advantage that I'm often pleasantly surprised by what I hear. The disadvantage is that I listen to a lot of music which disappoints to find the pieces which delight. It's the same reason as my friend drinks French wine, rather than Chilean or Australian.

Phil


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Subject: RE: Virtual Music Critic?
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 15 Oct 12 - 08:55 AM

1. "Musical tastes are very subjective but a virtual critic could do away with all preconceptions and analyse the music objectively. Is the music of a similar nature? "

2. "I am neither implying any such thing or attempting to describe what a critic does."

These statements are incompatible: if you're not attempting to describe what a critic does, then how can you even conjecture about what "a virtual critic" even IS, let alone what it might be, or could be capable of.

But that is arguably beside the point.

I'll tell you what I think a critic does: he/she attempts to explain what makes good music good and bad music bad. (Or alternatively, what makes interesting music interesting, and uninteresting music uninteresting - if you're one of those postmodern relativists who feel they have to constantly apologise for having an opinion.)

What a "virtual critic" can't do is what a good critic can do: try to describe what makes one singer's version of "Hares on the Mountain" totally amazing (sung by a female voice to guitar accompaniment in the key of E), and a different singer's version of "Hares on the Moutain" totally boring (sung by a female voice to guitar accompaniment in the key of E).

The whole point is that criticism is subjective! That what makes it VALUABLE and worth reading! More to the point, it is impossible for any music criticism to be anything else. A virtual "critic", working in the way you posit is not a critic, it's a tape-measure or spirit-level. All it does is point out congruencies that have almost nothing to do with art.

I can tell you what constitutes similar music and what doesn't, but it'll be a subjective opinion - mine. It's not an easy thing to do - much harder than just analysing tempos and instrumentation. It approaches "objectivity" only to the extent of how many people find it convincing.


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Subject: RE: Virtual Music Critic?
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 15 Oct 12 - 08:57 AM

Yesterday, come to think of it, I had one of those meetings that remind you that music is about far more than instrumentation or genre: at the Shirley Collins singing workshop at the Lewes Folk Festival there was a youngish Swedish guy who was big into English - particularly Sussex - song. He had an Alternative Tentacles (record label set up by Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys) courier bag. I have one too. We had a chat about the Dead Kens, Jello Biafra, Nomeansno etc afterwards. I often find that folk musicians I find sympatico tend to haves similar music interests to me in punk, jazz, or whatever. That's cos there are aesthetic commonalities in certain musicians/bands. Which a "virtual critic" could never clock.

here's a link to my emusic profile, where you should be able to view a list of all the music I've downloaded since I opened my account. I'd say there are common threads, though they'd be difficult to put into words:
matt milton emusic downloads


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Subject: RE: Virtual Music Critic?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 15 Oct 12 - 09:05 AM

Dave, I can't get it in Canada, either.


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Subject: RE: Virtual Music Critic?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 15 Oct 12 - 09:12 AM

They might be grouping similar instruments or genres. You like Appalachian dulcimer music? Maybe you'll like Hungarian cimbolon music.

You like Canadian heavy metal? Maybe you'll like German heavy metal.

That seems to be how they suggest books on Amazon.


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Subject: RE: Virtual Music Critic?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 15 Oct 12 - 09:47 AM

Yea - OK Matt. Virtual critic was the misleading phrase - Totaly my fault. I couldn't think of amother word that suggested something that tells you what you may or may not like. But what the hell - This is an internet forum not an English exam. Mentaly change 'critic' to 'something that tells you what you may and may not like' if you want and have done with it.

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Virtual Music Critic?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 15 Oct 12 - 11:34 AM

I've always been a virtuous folk music critic. Does that count?

~M~


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