11 May 2004

Musical thesaurus

musicplasma just got posted on BoingBoing a few days ago. It's one of those fascinating-but-what-to-do-with-it-after-five-minutes technologies.

It's main function is to return band names whose music is similar to that of a band name you enter. The designers implemented this fuzzy query engine with graphical result sets--separate visual qualities such as size, proximity, and color communicate popularity, similarity, or style. This is very similar to Thinkmap's Visual Thesaurus that appeared several years ago. Words float in a three-dimensional space of proximity and clustered groups.

Its accuracy aside, musicplasma could turn out to be a useful tool for us "music lovers." My first impulse was timely: for the past couple of weeks, I'd been bitchin' about needing some new, different music. My new-favorite-band, Thingy, was extinct five years before I discovered them ... I can't expect anything new, and their catalog was small to begin with. Enter musicplasma and its kind suggestions for alternative new-favorite-bands.

Or, howzabout those frustrating moments when someone drops the name of some obscure band ... like Thingy ... and their vague description (poppy math rock) is more abstruse (thank you Visual Thesaurus) than helpful. Musicplasma provides a scatter-net of bands possibly less obscure.

Musicplasma also works as a good utility in conjunction with Rhapsody, if you're so inclined. It's tough to choose services over gadgets, but as services go, streaming access to 40,000 albums for $10/month is pretty good. Pret-ty, pret-ty, pret-ty, pret-ty, pret-ty, good.

That's if you're so inclined.

I've had Rhapsody now for around ... two months? ... and have used the hell out of it. I don't plan on ever burning anything ($0.79/track) because I love the liner notes and general packaging goodness, but the sheer volume of available streaming music* is well worth it. It took me a month to piece together the new Peter Gabriel on Kazaa (hypothetically, mind you), and I wouldn't even *hope* to find Thingy there. I can listen to them immediately on Rhapsody. There's something to be said for the hunt when it comes to P2P, but immediate gratification has its upside too.

* Notable absences thus far: The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Linkin Park, Radiohead, and Pete Townshend.

(Point to think about later: musicplasma as a Web service.)

[ posted by sstrader on 11 May 2004 at 2:08:55 PM in Music ]