Category Archives: events

Music Similarity: Concepts, Cognition and Computation

Last week I attended a workshop on Music Similarity (Concepts, cognition and computation) held at the Lorentz Center (International Center for Workshops in the Sciences) in Leiden, Netherlands. The Lorentz Center is an international center that coordinates and hosts workshops in the sciences, based on the philosophy that science thrives on interaction between creative researchers. Lorentz Center workshops focus on new collaborations and interactions between scientists from different countries and fields, and with varying seniority.

As a contrast from the photo showed on their web, only female researchers working in music from different perspectives organized this workshop, which is already noticeable in our field:

They represent the different disciplines covered in the workshop:

  • Conceptual and computational aspects in music similarity
  • Music similarity and cognition
  • Music similarity in practice

The program was a combination of plenary presentation of different topics, discussion sessions in small groups and large groups, long breaks for lunch, coffee combined with interaction among participants, and nice social activities.

I enjoyed a lot this event, as it was a nice mixture of colleagues I already knew, researchers I had read their work but not met personally and new students with fresh ideas.

I focused my presentation on the applications of music similarity measures in Music Information Retrieval and the challenges of “building real applications for real people”. You can find my slides here:

And some photos here:

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Un mes irrepetible / A unique month

Yes, last month has been so unique for me that I wanted to share it with a post.

ISMIR 2014


From October 27th to November 1st, I attended the 15h International Conference of Music Information Retrieval in Taipei, Taiwan. ISMIR is by far my favorite conference, where I meet most of my colleagues, get to know the advancements in the field, and get fresh ideas for my research. This year, it was a busy edition for me. We presented some work related to the PHENICX project, where we try to apply MIR techniques for classical music, in particular for symphonic repertoire and within the context of a concert, so including real-time description. In addition, we had several meetings of the society board, where I take part as a member. Finally, I was co-authoring a poster on the robustness of low-level features, another one on melodic similarity of flamenco music, in the scope of our COFLA project, and presenting a demo of our MIR.EDU library for music education! A lot for a single week!

proxy  It was a great conference: amazing city and landscape, very good organization, nice presentations and research outcomes, and good perspectives for next year in Málaga, Spain.

After coming back from ISMIR, I had my tenured defense on November 5th. After some years working at UPF and a long waiting period due to economic restrictions, I got tenured assistant professor thanks to the Serra Hunter program of the Catalan government. I am really happy for that!

One week later, this Wednesday, I attended a workshop in Madrid that the Spanish Association of Symphonic Orchestras (AEOS) and BBVA foundation devoted, in its first day, to the new challenges and opportunities that technology offers for orchestras. I presented the PHENICX project, including use cases and the technologies that the different partners are researching and developping, integrated in our prototype. You can find here my slides and complementary material. It has already appeared in press.

Although we are not far from summer, I now feel I need some rest!

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I jornada interuniversitària: dones, emprenedoria i coneixement

Ayer estuve en una jornada sobre mujeres, emprendeduría y conocimiento, organizada por el Consell Universitari de Catalunya, y que  giró en torno al rol de la mujer en el desarrollo del conocimiento y la transferencia de tecnología. La jornada tuvo lugar en el Palau Macaya de la Obra Social “la Caixa”, un precioso edificio en el Paseo de San Joan de Barcelona.

Tuve la oportunidad de participar en una mesa redonda sobre “Experiencias en emprendeduría femenina“.

Para mí inesperadamente fue una experiencia estupenda, y tuve la oportunidad de conocer a mujeres brillantes en todos los aspectos, entre ella la ponente de la conferencia innaugural, la Dra Merçé Balcells, professora de l’Institut Químic de Sarrià – Universitat Ramon Llull i investigadora del Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Codirectora del MIT-Spain, y mis compañeras de mesa redonda: Dra. Laura M. Lechuga, cap del grup de nanobiosensors i nanobiofísica molecular del l’Institut Català de Nanociència i Nanotecnologia del CSIC a Barcelona,  Dra. Teresa Tarragó, fundadora d’Iproteos, spin-off de l’Institut de Recerca Biomèdica IRB Barcelona i la Universitat de Barcelona i Dra. Cristina Cid Salavert, cofundadora de la spin-off NT Sensors de la universitat Rovira i Virgili. Aquí tenéis una foto del evento:


En mi intervención intenté contar mi experiencia personal y desde una perspectiva de género en la carrera de investigación y en la transferencia de tecnología con la spin-off BMAT.  Para mi intervención conté con el apoyo de la Dra. Mónica Figueres y su equipo en el vicerrectorado de responsabilidad social y promoción de la Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Éstas son las transparencias minimalistas que utilicé.

Se generó un debate interesantísimo sobre la capacidad, motivación y circunstancias que hacen que sean pocas las mujeres que no ocupen puestos de relevancia tanto en el entorno empresarial como en el académico.

Se mostró, por ejemplo, como las mujeres son mayoría en los estudios universitarios y tienen los mejores expedientes, pueden acceder por ello mejor a becas de posgrado. Por el contrario, son una minoría de líderes de grupo, catedráticas o emprendedoras. También se habló de política, de imagen, roles e impacto en la sociedad.

Sin duda una experiencia magnífica que volveré a repetir si tengo la ocasión!


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KNOWeSCAPE: Analyzing the dynamics of information and knowledge landscapes

A late post about an amazing event. As pointed out in their website, there is no scape from the expansion of information! Yes, we need strategies for structuring, visualizing and locating what you need.

I have been getting more and more interested on the role of music visualization. There has been a large amount of research within the Music Information Retrieval (MIR) field intended to extract meaningful descriptions from music in audio format, to compute similarity between music pieces and to classify them according to semantic concepts such as mood, style or preference. However, less effort has been devoted to investigate which are the best strategies to present, in a visual way, this information to users with different profiles (e.g. expert musicians and people with no theoretical musical knowledge) and in different contexts (e.g. music listening or education). The main challenges are to provide intuitive visualizations of large music collections, to present information related to different temporal scales  (from real-time to global descriptors), and to combine descriptions related to different musical facets such as score, rhythm, tonality or instrumentation.

I had the chance to be invited as a speaker to a workshop on knowledge order an science. In this talk I presented some of our approaches to music visualization in terms of tonality, dynamics, tempo, structure, mood and music preference. I also discussed how these approaches are being considered in the PHENICX project to enrich live music concert performances in classical music. I also wanted to discuss about the need of multi-scale, personalized and adaptive representations of music collections.

It was a great event, and you can find on the web the abstracts of the different presentations and the slides. There is also here a summary of the workshop. It was an enriching multi-disciplinary experience, I was happy to see more women than is usually in tech events and now I have the chance to be part of this COST action and great community. Let me illustrate that with a figure from Agustin Martorell’s thesis.


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My three PhD students, Justin Salamon, Jose R. Zapata and Agustín Martorell, graduated last September. We had an intense week with the three defenses and a wonderful panel of experts for the jury. These are three very nice pieces of work and very different and varied in terms of contributions and scopes.

  • Agustín Martorell, “Modelling tonal context dynamics by temporal multi-scale analysis”. Jury members: Petri Toiviainen (University of Jyväskylä), Geoffroy Peeters (IRCAM), Sergi Jordà (UPF). This thesis provides nice insights on the concept of tonality and its computational modelling, discussing the different proposals for visualization and evaluation and proposing a new approach based on temporal multi-scale.
  • José R. Zapata “Comparative Evaluation and Combination of Automatic Rhythm Description Systems”. Jury members: Fabien Gouyon (INESC-Porto), Juan Bello (NYU), Xavier Serra (UPF). The work by Jose is extremely important as it provides a quantitative evaluation of state of the art methods for rhythm description (tempo and beat tracking), a way to automatically detect difficult examples, and propose a way to combine different strategies in different contexts (tracks, onset detection functions and beat tracking model) to address the current glass ceiling in those methods.
  • Justin Salamon. “Melody Extraction from Polyphonic Music Signals”. Jury Members: Geoffroy Peeters (IRCAM), Fabien Gouyon (INESC-Porto), Juan Bello (NYU). The thesis by Justin is an excellent contribution to the field of music content description, in particular predominang fundamental frequency estimation, including the MELODIA algorithm and many applications to evaluate and exploit the method.

I learned a lot by supervising the three of them, I am now happy that they succeed. I hope we will keep collaborating and I wish them all the best in their future careers!


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Video of my keynote talk at the 3rd International Workshop on Folk Music Analysis 2013

This is the video of my keynote talk at FMA 2013, titled “Towards Computer-Assisted Transcription and Description of Music Recordings”. This is the abstract of the talk. I hope you will like it!

Automatic transcription, i.e. computing a symbolic musical representation from a music recording, is one of the main research challenges in the field of sound and music computing. For monophonic music material the obtained transcription is a single musical line, usually a melody, and in polyphonic music there is an interest in transcribing the predominant melodic line. In addition to transcribing, current technologies are able to extract other musical descriptions related to tonality, rhythm or instrumentation from music recordings. Automatic description could potentially complement traditional methodologies for music analysis.

In this talk I present the state-of-the art on automatic transcription and description of music audio signals. I illustrate it with our own research on tonality estimation, melodic transcription and rhythmic characterization. I show that, although current research is promising, current algorithms are still limited in accuracy and there is a semantic gap between automatic feature extractors and expert analyses.
Moreover, I present some strategies to address these challenges by developing methods adapted to different repertoire and defining strategies to integrate expert knowledge into computational models, as a way to build systems following a “computer-assisted” paradigm.

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12/07/2013 · 12:56

Computational Ethnomusicology and FMA (3rd IW on Folk Music Analysis)

Over the last few years, there has been an increasing interest in the study of music from different traditions from a computational perspective. Researchers with interests in this area have been meeting at the ISMIR conferences and communicate through an interest group in computational ethnomusicology, ethnocomp.

My interests started in 2008, with a study about how tonal features, extracted from music audio signals, can be useful to automatically organize music recordings from different traditions. It basically consisted on characterizing the scale by means of high-resolution HPCP features and combining these features with timbre and rhythm descriptors. As a result, we established some relationships between audio features and geography in our ISMIR2009 paper on Music and geography: content description of musical audio from different parts of the world. After that, I got interested in MIR and Flamenco music, and I have been working in a system for the automatic transcription of flamenco singing, thanks to the COFLA project. This is a challenging task, that will require a dedicated post!

ethnocomp has always been a small community, and two years ago we had the first event devoted to this research area, the first Folk Music Analysis (FMA) workshop that took place in Athens, Greece. Last year I had the chance of co-organizing the 2nd FMA in Seville, my home town, which was jointly organized with a conference on flamenco research. At the last ISMIR in Porto, we could see an increasing interest in this small field, and there was a large number of people attending the ethnocomp ‘dinner?. Moreover, at my research group, my boss Xavier Serra is leading an ERC grant dealing with MIR and traditional music, compmusic. I am very happy that this field gets more attention, and that we address the fact that all our technology has been designed for Western popular music. There is much work to do to develop culture-specific or culture-aware tools.

I then hope that this year’s FMA, which will take place in Amsterdam, will be a success! I am sure it will be a truly interdisciplinary event, gathering people from ethnomusicology, music performance and music information retrieval.

Topics include:
– Computational ethnomusicology
– Retrieval systems for non-western and folk musics
– New methods for music transcription
– Formalization of musical data
– Folk music classification systems
– Models of oral transmission of music
– Cognitive modelling of music
– Aesthetics and related philosophical issues
– Methodological issues
– Representational issues and models
– Audio and symbolic representations
– Formal and computational music analysis

Important dates:
3 February 2013: Deadline for abstract submissions
10 March 2013: Notification of acceptance/rejection of submissions
5 May 2013: Deadline for submission of revised abstracts or full papers
6 and 7 June: Workshop

Don’t miss it!!!!

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ISMIR 2012

Last week I attended my favorite conference, the International Society of Music Information Retrieval Conference. It took place in Porto, Portugal. I gave a presentation on our flamenco project. If you are interested, these are the slides.

It was a very intense conference, where I attended very nice presentations and I got many great ideas for future research. I specially enjoyed the last-minute demo session, which was something different to what I am used to.

Now, back to work!

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III Interdisciplinary Conference in Flamenco Research – INFLA and II International Workshop on Folk Music Analysis – FMA

Some news about the INFLA-FMA event I am co-organizing!



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ISMIR 2012

I am tutorial chair at ISMIR 2012 in Porto. I am looking forward to organize a good tutorial sessions, so proposals and ideas are very welcome!



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