Pandora.com is a Web site that lets you create your own “station” that will stream into your computer or other device. To start, you put in a song or artist you like, and it builds a playlist from there. Along the way, you can fine-tune the playlist by giving a “thumbs-up” or “thumbs-down” to the songs Pandora suggests.
This was a treat for me because, although I’m pretty set in my ways with most music I listen to — I’m just fine with my rock ‘n’ roll collection, thank you — there are some genres that I feel like I’m just starting to explore.
Electric instrumental blues, for instance. The first time I started up Pandora, I put in “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers,” an amazing slow-tempo Jeff Beck number. Pandora picked up the ball, and gave me a string of incredible instrumental guitar players. Duke Levine, Buckethead, Ronnie Earl, The Hellcasters, and many more that I never would have heard of otherwise. I was “thumbs-upping” almost every song I heard, and within a week I was ordering CDs from Amazon. (Pandora also gives you the option to buy individual songs that you hear from Amazon or from iTunes.)
I created another station by entering “Shaddowfax.” That’s a “new age” (I hate that term) group from the 1980s and 1990s that plays quiet but interesting music that I find ideal to work to. The trouble with that genre, like electric instrumental blues, is that it’s tough to find on the radio with any regularity, so I had no idea what was out there. Now, after a few days of Pandora, I have a much better idea.
Pandora claims to have more than 750,000 songs “indexed” according to hundreds of musical attributes; they call it the Music Genome Project. All I know is that it works.