People love to mourn the death of rock music. But rock isn't dead; it's just gotten more complicated.
Instead of making traditional rock 'n' roll, the genre has been influenced and absorbed by a dozen other music categories. Now there is rock, indie rock, alternative rock, sleaze rock, glam rock, hard rock, British alternative rock, industrial rock, and neo-industrial rock, to name a few. How do you explain the difference between industrial rock and neo-industrial rock? Or the difference between brostep and catstep? Or even what sunset lounge is?
You don't. You play the songs one after another so the differences between the two are clear, which is exactly what the interactive project Every Noise at Once aims to do.
Not only can you examine how genres interact with one another using the map, but you can also search for specific artists and see how their music fits in with other artists in their genre. Take this search I did for the multi-genre band CHVRCHES that places them on the map with other shimmer-pop musicians:
Or this post-grunge map for Nickelback that positions them securely between Hoobastank and Smash Mouth.
Glenn McDonald, who created the project, is a principal engineer at Echo Nest, which was recently purchased by Spotify. (You'll notice while browsing that every song opens in Spotify if you click on it.) As he told the Daily Dot in May 2014:
"This map builds on essentially everything else we do at the Echo Nest from parsing the contents of scraped web pages to analyzing the psycho-acoustic properties of the actual audio files…I focus on trying to make sense of data, and extract useful insights from it. Besides genres, I work on similarity calculations, personalization, data quality, sanity-checking, emerging-music discovery, contextual playlist generation, audio analysis and whatever else seems to have the potential to help people experience music."
As smart as this interactive is, it can also tell us about how genres relate and don't relate to one another. The map is ostensibly organized so that more mechanical genres are at the top and more organic ones at the bottom, dense music on the left and soft, bouncy music on the right.
Ultimately, though, Every Noise at Once is just fun. The scan option at the top especially is a good way to lose a half an hour or, by accident, an afternoon.