How to find totally, utterly random musical selections
January 19, 2014 11:43 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a method, or algorithm, to identify completely random musical selections, across all genres (from Norwegian black metal to Renaissance madrigals to Pygmy chants). How can I do it, given that there is no single catalog that lists all music?

My question is inspired by this dude's awesome way of ordering random things from Amazon. He has a program that randomly selects items and orders them for him (within some limitations, like cost). It's a cool idea.

I'm interested in doing something similar with music, though I don't want to actually buy the songs (not directly, anyway). I just need a reference to a musical selection, and then I'll find it myself on YouTube, or iTunes, or at the library or whatever.

posted by alex1965 to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, I forgot to mention that the purpose is to broaden my musical horizons -- and to do so in way that is as unbiased as possible.
posted by alex1965 at 11:46 AM on January 19, 2014

As someone with very random, eclectic taste in music (soukous, new age, Gregorian chants, they all have a place in my life), I'd say the best way I know how to expand your music horizon is to subscribe to Spotify for like $5 a month (or even get the free version) and start listening to featured and user playlists. Their catalog has millions of songs, and I've used Spotify to discover new genres (like Ghanaian palm wine guitar) and new artists (Blood Orange, the Doves, Bon Iver to name a few). They also have apps you can install, like one that features the entire catalog of particular artists. Listening to a single artist like Bob Dylan in depth like that is very fulfilling if you're a music fan. Also there are stations you can randomly select and listen to.

I know this doesn't involve random algorithms. You have to be actively adventurous. But as someone who can't quite pin down just a handful of genres she enjoys, I have to sing Spotify's praises.
posted by Cybria at 12:03 PM on January 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Here's a website that allows you to click a button and play a random song from Spotify's library. This is a bit sideways to your point but Spotify recently revealed that 20% of the music in their library has never been played which you might pretty interesting.
posted by telegraph at 12:22 PM on January 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

FIP Radio is a French radio station that pays completely random stuff from any and every genre. I listen to it all the time to as a refresher to my indie/hiphop/edm wheelhouse.

Link to related MeFi post and discussion
posted by R.F.Simpson at 12:43 PM on January 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Choosing a random song from a list of songs is easy. Choosing a random song from all songs ever recorded with no such list of all songs is impossible. Right this second somewhere in Albania someone just finished a recording of traditional folk music. It will not appear in any place where you might be able to choose it at random.

Spotify or iTunes is probably the thing with the widest possible catalog of music in the world today, so I'd try to pick at random from one or both of those.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 1:35 PM on January 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

You might like This Is My Jam. It's a great way to explore, and there are a few MeFites on there.
posted by gubenuj at 2:03 PM on January 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Perhaps you could program something that picks, according to your specifications, from Every Noise at Once.
posted by umbĂș at 7:03 PM on January 19, 2014

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