Vicarious Music & Media

Listening Search Engine That Finds You New Tunes

“The Internet has made finding a particular piece of music a straightforward process; simply knowing the title, performer, or composer can typically get you to the work you’re looking for. But for most people, a key aspect of music appreciation lies in the discovery of the new: a previously unknown work or artist that is both appealing and fresh. Help for those looking for new music may be on the way in the form of a search tool funded by the National Science Foundation that is claimed to identify aesthetic similarities between pieces of music.

Search scene guru John Battelle pointed us to the NSF’s funding announcement, which is a bit sparse on the details. Additional details can be found in previous works by the grant’s recipient, including a peer-reviewed publication and a meeting presentation.

The technology behind a “similarity search engine” comes from research into what are termed Artificial Art Critics (AACs). AACs are composed of two components: an evaluator, which weighs how a typical human population would judge the aesthetic quality of a piece, and a feature extractor that identifies its general qualities. It’s doubtful that the evaluator would be required for a search engine, as it might interfere with those searching for music that’s generally considered aesthetically displeasing. That sort of music will probably pose a challenge to this technology in general, as the researchers note that it’s “much harder to find truly unpopular (bad) music, since, by definition, the latter does not get publicized or archived.”

That leaves us with feature extraction, which appears to be a three-part process. Previous work by the grant’s author and others has produced neural networks that are trained to recognize both composer and style for a range of music including different eras of classical, country, rock, and jazz. Composer identification on classical pieces has a success rate of over 90 percent, while style attribution varied from 70 to 90 percent in a broader sampling of music. Presumably, any search engine based on this technology could verify its predictions against any metadata associated with the file and use that information to improve its success rate.”


0 Responses to Listening Search Engine That Finds You New Tunes

  1. Pingback: Olkenava » A search engine that “listens” to music to help you find new tunes

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