Keep the Music Pumping, All Hail Internet Radio

After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.  ~Aldous Huxley, Music at Night and Other Essays


Music is so profound in this manner than it transcends any one language and can affect us universally as humans. Much like people perceive their environments differently based on a little bit of nature and a little bit of nurture, music is interpreted by our minds and our hearts alike. What interests me the most about this is the way in which we gain exposure to music and how over time that exposure changes our perception. Even more so, I am interested in the cycle of moods that governs what music we feel like listening to at any given time.

As a kid, music generally found its way into my ears via the FM radio, soundtrack of a movie or television program,  or the occasional gift of a cassette tape. Later on the CD dominated and teamed up with word of mouth. Then, as a teenager, live shows joined the crew of exposure to new tunes. Yet, with the responsibilities of day to day life, you really have to afford time to actively expose yourself to new music. Well, that is unless you enlist the help of the radio or a music channel on television (Do they even play music anymore?).

The joy of music should never be interrupted by a commercial.  ~Leonard Bernstein

The more time I spend listening to the radio, the more I can’t stand it. Satellite radio aside, hearing the same songs over and over again that someone else is choosing to play just doesn’t sit well with me. And don’t get me started on morning shows… So anyway, I’ve been craving a way to access new music, and remember or discover old music, for a long time coming. Well, thanks to this tangle of wires we call the internet, and no doubt the hard work of those responsible, we have internet radio. Often times completely devoid of commercials, and most definitely capable of bringing unknown music to your ears, internet radio has revolutionized the way people listen to music… and has been doing so for years.

The element of discovery can be similar to traditional radio but is often augmented with new information thanks to the nature of the technology. Pandora, for example, operates on the Human Genome Project which started in 2000.  Pandora allows you to create a “radio station” or channel  based on a song, artist, or genre. The application finds similar songs based on a large number of characteristics like beat, vocal style, type of guitar distortion, etc. While listening you can give each song a thumbs up or a thumbs down and future playback will adjust accordingly. Lyrics, history, purchase information, and more are all available right there on the site.  Grooveshark, Live365, Shoutcast, and a horde of other sites have similar features. Even FM radio channels now benefit from having track listings live online; listeners find their way to purchasing music. What is incredibly cool is the availability of the more niche underground genres to share their music with the world.

Through these internet radio sites I have discovered and rediscovered genres, artists, and songs I would have never been able to find if relying solely on FM radio or television. New tunes are a healthy way to keep things fresh and are a huge motivator, especially when crunching away on a design,  some coding, or anything else for that matter.  So log on and crank it up!