Musical Similarity as Conceived by “Avid Recreational Music Listeners”

Jason Neal


Over the past century, sociocultural and technological developments have fostered the emergence of what Peterson and Kern (1996) call “omnivorous” music listeners, who listen to music from a variety of different genres. As well, non-hierarchical forms of categorization, such as tagging, have appeared in recent years. Despite such trends, genre remains the primary basis for categorizing music in systems with content, metadata, or both. Furthermore, techniques employed within many recommender systems, intended to aid listeners with finding music for recreational listening, indirectly continue to reflect genre-based categorization and taste. This paper provides an overview of the contexts in which such trends have emerged. It also considers prospects for incorporating actively nuanced dimensions of similarity into recommender systems, which could enable users to engage in cross-genre music discovery more easily than current systems allow. To provide further grounding for such possibilities, I am currently conducting a study to determine how “avid recreational music listeners” conceptualize musical similarity. This paper discusses the study’s methodology, which consists of semi-structured interviews and music-seeking exercises.

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Copyright (c) 2015 Jason Neal

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