George Tzanetakis has uploaded a 30 minute presentation with an overview of music information retrieval (MIR). It contains a good introduction to Fourier analysis and STFT. (On the same site, there is also a 18 minute tutorial by Meinard Mueller on chroma features.)
Tzanetakis’ presentation spawned a small discussion on the MUSIC-IR list about the origins of the term MIR. The earliest use seems to have been at Princeton in the 1960s for a software package used in research on Josquin by Michael Kassler et al. (See Kassler, 1966, “Toward musical information retrieval”, Perspectives of new music, vol. 4 (1966), no. 2, p. 59-67).
Before ISMIR started in 2000, some of the work on MIR was published in Computer music journal and the International Computer Music Conference proceedings (a search for retrieval results in about 370 matching papers from 1975 onward).

eOREMA journal

“The eOREMA journal is a peer-reviewed scholarly arm of the OREMA (Online Repository for Electroacoustic Music Analysis) project (www.orema.dmu.ac.uk) that focuses on the analysis of electroacoustic music. The eOREMA journal will be an open access publication platform that accepts both articles that discuss analytical methodologies and analyses of electroacoustic music compositions in the broadest sense (which can range from acousmatic music to installations and electronica). We encourage both new and established researchers to contribute.”


Algorithmic.net by Christopher Ariza is a “comprehensive research resource for computer aided algorithmic music composition, including over one-thousand research listings, over one hundred system listings, cross referenced links to research, links to software downloads and documentation, and web-based tools for searching and filtering the complete lexicon.”

European Sound Studies Organisation founded

ESSA, the European Sound Studies Organisation, was founded on Friday, July 14 2012. The aim is to provide an international, interdisciplinary and interprofessional organization for promoting the study of sound by providing a forum for knowledge exchange, for conferences, for research encouragement and development of projects, and for information. Membership is currently free, but an annual fee will be charged eventually.

There are three open access journals affiliated with ESSA: Soundeffects, Journal of sonic studies, and Interference, which I’ve mentioned before.

Sound and Music Computing Sweden conference

The Sound and Music Computing, Understanding and Practicing in Sweden conference will take place at KTH (the Royal Institute of Technology) on April 3-4. Besides paper presentations, Johannes Bergmark will talk about Muzak Blocker, and Marcus Wrangö about Audiorama. There will also be demos of products from Teenage Engineering, Wallander Instruments and Score Cleaner. For details, see the full programme.

OREMA (Online Repository for Electroacoustic Music Analysis)


“This is an open invitation to the OREMA (Online Repository for Electroacoustic Music Analysis) project. We are looking for people with an interest in electroacoustic music analysis (in any genre) to become participants in this project. The OREMA project is a community-based repository and forum for electroacoustic music analysis. It is a platform where analysts can upload and share their analyses of electroacoustic compositions and participate in online discussions of analytical methodologies and strategies with other practitioners. The aim of the project is to establish an active community focused on the analysis of electroacoustic music. The OREMA website could be a valuable resource for a wide range of practical, research and pedagogic applications.

The OREMA project is split into three main areas: analyses, the analytical toolbox and the community forum. The analysis section of the website is a place where users can publish their analyses of any electroacoustic work. The analytical toolbox is a collection of methodologies and strategies for electroacoustic music analysis. Finally, there is a forum where users can post topics to debate ideas on the subject of electroacoustic music analysis.

Registration is free and open to anyone. We welcome composers, musicologists, practitioners, enthusiasts, teachers and students to take part in this project. If you are interested in becoming a member of the OREMA project please visit the main page of the website (www.orema.dmu.ac.uk) and click the create an account link under the login portal.

History of the project
Since March of last year the OREMA project has been tested with 20 plus core participants working on analyses and discussing topics concerning the analysis of electroacoustic music. There are currently 12 analyses that have been submitted to the OREMA project of 7 different compositions ranging from acousmatic works to audio-only games.

Project website: www.orema.dmu.ac.uk
Googlegroup: http://groups.google.com/group/orema_project?lnk=srg

The OREMA project is part of the New Multimedia Tools for Electroacoustic Music Analysis project, which is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) in the Music, Technology and Innovation Research Centre at De Montfort University, Leicester.

All content held on the website is protected under a Creative Commons Licence. This specific Creative Commons Licence has been chosen, as participants are encouraged to share and alter analyses provided that attribution is given to the original author(s).”

EAM and music perception

There is an interesting discussion in the online journal Empirical musicology review (EMR) concerning the use of electroacoustic music (EAM) for the study of music perception. In “Time series analysis as a method to examine acoustical influences on real-time perception of music” (EMR, vol. 5, no. 4 (October, 2010)), Roger T. Dean and Freya Bailes use an extract from Trevor Wishart‘s Red bird to analyse correlations between the acoustic properties intensity and spectral flatness, and listener arousal (perceptions of change) and valence (expressed affect). They argue that

“[p]revious studies of listeners’ real-time perceptions of affect in music have attempted to map response through time to acoustic properties of the piece […]. Missing are substantial attempts to assess which acoustic properties also drive listeners’ perceptions of the structure of the same music. Structure in this instance need not be a music-theoretic analysis of large-scale form […], but refers to the low-level assessment by a listener of change and continuity in the music. [… M]usical forms that do not rely on hierarchical structures such as tonality or meter might exhibit quite a close relationship between acoustic properties of the work, listener perceptions of structure (change in sound), and listener perceptions of affect. EAM is one such form, and the subject of the current paper.”

Dean and Bailes find that

“intensity influences perceptions of change and expressed arousal substantially. Spectral flatness influences valence, while animate sounds influence the valence response and its variance.”

Marcus T. Pearce, in “Time-series analysis of Music: Perceptual and Information Dynamics” (EMR, vol. 6, no. 2 (April, 2011)), comments that Dean and Bailes

“[…] give two reasons for using EAM in their study: first, to demonstrate that their methods generalise beyond Western tonal music which is more often used in empirical work on music perception; and second, Red Bird provides an opportunity to test their methods on idiosyncratic temporally-localised timbral features in addition to the continuous features which generalise to other musical genres (see, e.g., Dean, Bailes & Schubert, 2011). Interestingly, their timbre feature of choice is spectral flatness, which they view as a more global indicator of timbre than spectral centroid, which is more commonly used in research on music perception (though this is not true of research on audio signal processing and music information retrieval where spectral flatness is one of the standard descriptors used in the MPEG 7 standard).”

Spectral flatness is the geometric mean of the power spectrum divided by the arithmetic mean. Noisy spectra have high flatness, peaky spectra low flatness. Spectral flatness is also related to the information content of the sound. The spectral centroid, i.e. the mean, barycenter or “mass center” of a spectrum, is correlated with brightness. Both flatness and centroid are included in the MPEG 7 standard. For descriptions of these and other timbre measures, see Geoffroy Peeters, A large set of audio features for sound description, 2004.

In addition, Pearce remarks that

“Dean and Bailes also argue that EAM can be algorithmically generated in such a way that the acoustic and algorithmic parameters of interest are systematically varied in creating stimuli for research on music perception. In other work, for example, Dean et al. (2011) extend their approach to the effects of intensity on arousal in two pieces written by Roger Dean, one of which is composed in the minimalist style. We might legitimately ask what advantage such algorithmically generated music has over the stimuli often constructed artificially to create experimental conditions in empirical research on music perception. The most obvious advantage is that the results gain in ecological validity from using stimuli created by composers, using stylistically legitimate methods, with an artistic purpose. These results should generalise to the experience of similar music outside the laboratory, while results obtained with artificially created or altered musical stimuli are not guaranteed to do so. The advantage of computer-generated music over other musical styles is that it can be produced so as to conserve experimental control.”

Dean and Bailes respond to Pearce in another paper, “Modelling perception of structure and affect in music: spectral centroid and Wishart’s Red Bird” (EMR, vol. 6, no. 2 (April, 2011)) where they analyse the Red Bird extract using spectral centroid and find that

“[…] it is fairly clear that spectral centroid and spectral flatness bear a quite distant relationship to atomic perceptual processes, and it is still unclear how they may influence cognition. But acoustic intensity, on the other hand, is an immediate determinant of an important perceptual response, loudness, and this relationship is much better understood. Again, most studies use short tones, often synthetic, but it is clear that even with longer musical extracts, intensity is a close determinant of continuously perceived loudness.”