Most of us know that feeling of loving a song so much that we have it on indefinite repeat, but The Infinite Jukebox takes that to a new, algorithmically (and just plain rhythmically) brilliant level. The handiwork of Paul Lamere, the online music player takes a single track and breaks it down into beats, then links together any beats that sound particularly similar. Playback can continue as standard, but it can also jump between those linked points in an ever-evolving song.
In fact, left to its own devices, The Infinite Jukebox will continue to play the same song forever, though the track itself will evolve over time. “For beat similarity we look at pitch, timbre, loudness, duration and the position of the beat within a bar” Lamere says, with a colorful, circular representation of the progressing playback and the possible leaps.
You can also use your keyboard to control playback, with space handling play/pause, the left/right arrows for changing play velocity, and the down arrow setting velocity straight to zero. Control freezes playback on the currently playing beat, and shift triggers a bounce from the current beat to all similar sounding beats.
Behind the scenes it’s the Echo Nest analyzer that does the clever work, the same engine that’s behind Nokia Music’s personalized playlists. Some tracks work better than others, Lamere warns, with those that have plenty of self-similarity sounding smoother in the transitions.
You can upload your own MP3 to The Infinite Jukebox, or choose from any of the preloaded tracks that others have tried; that’s a quicker way of getting started, since the Echo Nest analysis can be a little time consuming depending on server load. Karma Police by Radiohead works well, as does Psy’s Gangham Style which is what got Lamere started in the first place.