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Sunday, May 30th, 2004

musicplasma, rock history
I stumbled across MusicPlasma [update 2007-03-28: now called LivePlasma] — “the music visual search engine.” Type in a band name and it draws nifty diagrams of related bands. The graphs are navigable, sort of. (My experience indicates that the company hasn’t worked out all the kinks yet.)

Physical proximity within a map indicates musical “closeness.” Also, bands are clustered by genre and epoch: a search for REO Speedwagon lists every band I heard on the radio when I was in grade school. (I once saw Supertramp in concert. And Styx! That was my favorite band in 1977.)

Next I entered “Camel,” a band I’ve been digging for 20 years. The resulting diagram contains nearly every band I listen to regularly, and several I should be. It contains every major progressive rock band I can think of.

Some of the bands are surprising — the “Beatles?” Who are they?

Jethro Tull family tree, by Pete FrameThese charts remind me of the Family Tree diagrams drawn by Pete Frame in the 1980s. The one I remember best is from the 20th Anniversary Box Set for Jethro Tull. Here it is, in glorious grayscale mid-fidelity complete with JPEG artifacting: Pete Frame’s Family Tree for Jethro Tull, 1968-1988.

Pete Frame's Rock Family TreesFrame’s family trees are dense with the chronology of rock history; the charts show the incestuous development of the best bands of the 1970s and 1980s. The first book, Rock Family Trees, traces Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Genesis, The Police, King Crimson, Fleetwood Mac, the Yardbirds, and many more. If you’ve ever pored over liner notes while the record was playing, you need to see this book.

More Rock Family Trees from Pete FrameThe second volume, More Rock Family Trees, contains Jeff Beck, Black Sabbath, CSN&Y, The Cult, Bob Dylan, Buddy Holly, Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne, Pink Floyd, Santana, Sex Pistols, Siouxsie & The Banshees, The Smiths, Spirit, The Velvet Underground, and about a thousand more. Cool, cool, cool.

Tags: musicplasma, liveplasma, pete frame, rock family trees
posted to channel: Music
updated: 2007-03-28 14:50:19

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