Saturday 30 June 2007

C4DM’s Listening Room Celebration

Last Thursday C4DM celebrated their new listening room with an open air concert. The performances included classical guitar duets, modern arrangements of Persian music, beat boxing, electronic music, and lots of great singing. It’s amazing how many excellent musicians they got in their team. Mark Sandler mentioned that they might organize another concert next year.

Wednesday 27 June 2007

Interrupting the Silence

There is an unwritten rule that blogs should be updated frequently... and I’ve been silent for over two weeks now. I’ve even considered discontinuing this blog. The main reason is that I enjoy what I’m currently doing too much to even think about writing a new entry. I guess it’s a side effect of working for the most exciting music 2.0 service in the world :-)

If I’d try to write a paragraph about what it is that currently fascinates me so much I would probably include words such as: music recommendations, music similarity based on audio analysis & collaborative filtering & tags associated with music, computing audio similarity on millions of tracks, playlist generation, connecting users with users with similar tastes, millions of users, scalability issues, evaluation procedures, Hadoop, LSH and other clever ways to deal with lots of data, for example, I only recently learned that an algorithm as simple as one that efficiently computes an intersection can actually be something very interesting :-)

Furthermore, I not only get to work on fascinating problems, I’m also very lucky to be surrounded by lots of very clever and highly motivated colleagues!

Btw, if you’re a frequent user you might have noticed some improvements of the weekly recommendations recently... Norman did a great job on that, and he’s got some further significant improvements lined up.

And of course London itself is another reason why I hardly find time to put something on this blog :-)

Despite all these reasons not to write, there is a reason to write. Webcasters in the US have been demonstrating today what might happen if the recent CRB ruling (dramatic increase in royalties) remains unchanged. has decided not to join the protest (for an official statement read this). However, there have been ongoing discussions at the office between those who think we should join the struggles of the small webcasters (after all not too long ago was one of them), and those arguing that our user’s are already pissed off (because we’ve had way too many technical problems recently and that we really shouldn’t upset them anymore), and those arguing that all of this won’t help us advance the social music revolution. Anyway, it’s good to see that the day of silence has apparently awakened lots of listeners (as I conclude from these comments on digg). There should be a lot more public discussions on how to compensate artists.

Sunday 10 June 2007

Digital Libraries of Music

Last Wednesday I enjoyed a talk by David Bainbridge at the C4DM about the Greenstone digital library project. David and his team have been developing it for 12 years, and they seem to have been well ahead of their time. The talk inspired me to start dreaming of the ultimate capoeira music digital library. Thousands of capoeira songs and their variations and interpretations (from all well known masters from various capoeira schools) available at a single click, full length audio, rhythm and melody annotations, lyrics and their translations. It would also be great to have wiki style discussions of the meanings and origins of the respective lyrics, links to similar songs (similar with respect to the style, lyrics, melody, rhythm), pictures of people who created them, or even videos of them performing them, …

Even though capoeira music is just a tiny subset of music in general it seems like putting all this information together would be a huge project. The hardest part would probably be to gather the recordings, if they exist at all. As far as I know many songs have already died because they were never recorded or written down :-/

Friday 1 June 2007


If I were in academia and about to set up a DB for my own evaluations the first thing I’d do is to obtain the MusicBrainz IDs for each track. In the long run it seems like the best way to have a common basis for sharing annotations and other metadata. Even will (hopefully soon) support those IDs and then it will be really easy to access the correct tag data (and all the other metadata) for the corresponding tracks. Btw, I heard McGill has already started working with them.