Wednesday, 25 March 2009

What is 'continuous mixing'?

So as some of you may have noticed iTunes 8.1 just came out. It contains something called iTunes DJ. There are two interesting claims it makes, one of which is good and the other, well, would be good if they did it. As near as i can tell (I've only played around with it for a couple minutes) iTunes DJ is basically Party Shuffle++.

The new thing that's rad is a new remote voting feature. If a bunch of people are at a party and they have iPod touch/iPhones they can vote for tracks to be included the ongoing playlist. This is a great idea generally (though I wonder what the avg house party ipod user % is like...). I've been playing with some other democratically driven social playlists, though mine are a bit less direct, involving voting on the destination of a small chunk of a playlist.

The new that's not so rad is this claim about continuous mixing. The splash page states that "iTunes DJ automatically picks songs to make a continuous mix of your music." Since I'm working on automatic continuous mixing that got my attention. But the thing is they don't mean take a few track beat align them, overlap them, phrase align the crossfading etc. Apparently they mean constantly select some tracks using nearly random criteria (seriously, the second track it picked was a chapter from a book on tape that's in my iTunes library. It's even genre labeled ' Books & Spoken' so I don't know what sort of engine thinks that's a good track for the DJ playlist). I realize that at some level this a matter of language. Clearly whoever made the splash page doesn't have the same meaning in mind for 'continuous' that I do, which involves smooth mixing or at least removal of leading and trailing silence. But I guess I just think that if you're going to call a piece of software a DJ it ought to act like one.[/rant]


Paul said...

Very funny!

BTW, I wish you would post more about your playlist generation stuff. I'd love to get a better understanding of the state of the art from someone in the thick of it like you.

ben said...

glad you enjoyed it. I'm really trying to post more, aiming at 3 - 5 posts a week. It should help focus my thoughts on all of these things. In about a week or so I should be posting some code (using remix even...) outlining techniques on song to song transitions. Then back to the playlist gen stuff (in my mind these things are highly related...)

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