You're listening to Aerosmith's "Walk this Way" on the streaming-music site Pandora. And as it fades out, Pink's "So What" takes its place. Why? It might be because they both have exemplary electric guitar riffs, which Pandora describes as "a short melody, repeated over and over again, to hook the listener's ear."
That's one of 400 criteria Pandora uses to classify songs, and now it's providing a glimpse of those inner workings with a site called Inside the Music. It debuted yesterday (April 11) with a peek at what makes a rock song, such as that electric guitar riff or guitar effects such as wah-wah and delay. Along with rock, the site will eventually show the elements of five other genres: R&B, electronica, rap, country and classical.
It's an interactive experience. When you go to the site, you see a scrolling ribbon of album covers that fit the genre, everything from AC/DC to CCR. Among them are boxes explaining the criteria. Click on "electric guitar riffs," for example, and you can listen to a short audio track explaining what they are and where you will find them. You'll also have the option to create an "electric guitar riffs" station on Pandora.
Like many Pandora listeners, you may still not agree with their decisions of which songs go together on a station. But at least you'll have a better idea why they chose them.
The site is sponsored by Intel. So amid the descriptions and audio clips, you'll also hear occasional commercials, featuring Intel's own theme music "dum…dum-dum-dum-dum." Pandora doesn't explain what genre that is.
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