This is good.


Why do we love some musical styles and dislike others? And what does the music we love reveal about our personality? Nolan Gasser sets out to answer those and other questions in his new book "Why You Like It: The Science and Culture of Musical Taste." Gasser oversaw Pandora Radio’s Music Genome Project, which created an algorithm to recommend music for listeners based on the specific characteristics of the songs they played. His new book draws on psychology, sociology and musicology to explain the elements that dictate and inform musical preferences. We'll talk to him about his work, and we want to hear from you: What musical patterns, styles or genres move you?

Guests:

Stream at KQED radio (forum program ). This aired on 5/23.

bander
 First off I NEVER ever allow ANY influence from what mainstream listeners enjoy to dictate what "styles"music I enjoy so trying to attach a "why" based on ANY outside influence is like a dog chasing it's tail..Second this crap ONLY applies to "sheep"of the world who live their entire lives based on what some advertising company tells them is good/cool/desirable.
 Third,emotional response to an external stimuli can NEVER be measured or categorized.This is as unquantifiable as trying to answer why I prefer Blondes to other hair color!
What I find fascinating is the way they are able to break music down into meaningful categories, which is pretty cool all by itself, and then go beyond that to use those to sort and create lists of music you are much more likely to enjoy. 

Most of us think in terms of music genre like rock, metal, funk, R&B etc but there are patterns to these that transcend their genres and it turns out that understanding those patterns you can recommend music for someone they will enjoy even though it is outside their normal genre. 

Like the song Come On Eileen sounds like a very original song, and it is, until you look at it in terms of structure, the way it switches keys, "common tone and diatonic pivot modulation" (heh) and then from that point of view it turns out to be just one of a great many similar songs. So you like that song, Pandora (or whatever) can recommend a lot of similar, and yet at the same time very different, songs.

That is the positive aspect. The commercial and very negative side is they can also look at sounds and patterns people tend to like and come up with lots of music that has a lot of mass appeal even though it is really drab repetitive mindless soul-sapping dreck. Like, the ooh-wa-ooh. Hard to type or read but when you hear it you will realize it is everywhere. Turns out something like 75% of all the hits across seemingly very different genres were written by the same two guys. Sounds impossible but true. Go find the YouTube video and check it out.

Unfortunately none of that seems to work very well for me. The few times I come across new music that I really like it inevitably turns out to be too poorly recorded to want to buy. Because I am fussy and only get the good stuff now. But the way they're able to analyze and systematize something that to me seems impossibly complex, well that is just totally fascinating to me.
Basically speaking, there are two categories: offensive and non-offensive. We are influenced through social / societal stimuli to a certain end. Some of us will feel inclined to side with the underdog (rappers, etc...) others will side with the  non-offensive (music). 

My experience with Pandora recommendations is this,
I selected a Neil Young category (the wifes choice), before long every third song or so was Motown. We dislike Motown. All other channels we selected pretty much ended up playing what we call crappy music. No more paying for Pandora.