News and Events

MTG article in Nature's Scientific Reports

Joan Serrà and Martín Haro are coauthors of an article that has been published in the on-line journal Scientific Report that is part of Nature. The article is on "Measuring the evolution of contemporary western popular music"

Summary of article:

A quantitative analysis of songs in the Million Song Dataset reveals a number of emerging patterns in the evolution of contemporary popular music. The study, published in Scientific Reports , suggests that over the past 50 years pop songs have become louder, their pitch has become more restricted and their timbre more homogenized.

Like language, music is an important form of cultural expression, but the long-term variations of the underlying patterns remain poorly understood. Joan Serrà and colleagues studied the Million Song Dataset, which includes descriptions of the pitch, timbre and loudness of musical recordings from 1955 to 2010, spanning a variety of genres, from pop and rock to hip hop. They report several statistical patterns and metrics characterizing the general usage of pitch, timbre and loudness in contemporary western pop music. Many of these patterns have remained stable over a period of more than 50 years, suggesting a tendency towards conventionalism in the creation of this type of music. But the authors also observed three important trends in the evolution of popular music: the restriction of pitch sequences, the homogenization of timbre and an increasing average loudness.

The authors suggest this means that an old tune rerecorded using modern techniques that allow for increased loudness and with slightly simpler chord progressions and new instrument sonorities could be perceived as novel and fashionable. The development of further historical music databases could allow the quantification of major transitions in the history of music and the discovery of more subtle evolving characteristics of particular genres or artists."

26 Jul 2012 - 19:53 | view
Voctro Labs 'Best digital inniciative of the year' by Generació Digital (Catalunya Radio)

"Generació Digital" (a "Catalunya Radio" program about Technology and Video Games) celebrated their 10th anniversary last week. With this occasion, they organized a party at Fabrica Moritz in Barcelona and a contest for the best mobile application, videogame and digital initiative in 2011. Voctro Labs, our third spin-off company recently established, got awarded with the prize for the "Best digital initiative of the year" especially for the release of Bruno & Clara, the first Spanish Virtual Singers. It's really good news as there were a lot of other good candidates for the prize, so we expect that this mention will open doors for the future!

This is a blog post with some pictures of the event and an small interview to Voctro Labs in yesterday's Radio program (in catalan) is available here (minute 38:10)

23 Jul 2012 - 12:27 | view
PHONOS project: linking culture and music technology

Building on a long and close relationship between the Music Technology Group of the UPF and Phonos Foundation that has focused on the promotion of electronic music, we now start a more ambitious project, that, combining existing activities  with some new ones, aims to promote cultural and social initiatives around the music technology research.

Initially the main initiatives will be: support for music creation through grants, various concerts series and the Sons de Barcelona workshops.

The Phonos project is open to the university community and to the society at large. We welcome proposals and suggestions for concerts, workshops or other activities.

4 Jul 2012 - 18:06 | view
2nd CompMusic Workshop: Final Program

The 2nd CompMusic Workshop will take place in Istanbul (Turkey) on July 12th-13th 2012.This second workshop will cover all the topics of relevance to CompMusic, bringing together the researchers working in the project plus researchers willing to contribute to the problems that are being worked on in the project. A selection of the articles presented in the workshop will be published as a special issue in the Journal of New Music Research. Attendance to the workshop is by invitation only. If you are interested in attending you can ask to be invited by sending an email to any of the Scientific Committee members or to mtg-info [at] llista [dot] upf [dot] edu

2 Jul 2012 - 17:00 | view
Phonos concert: The EyeHarp and Brain Control

On Tuesday July 3rd 2012 at 19:30h in the Espai Polivalent of the Communication Campus of the UPF, Phonos is organizing a concert of The EyeHarp and Brain Control.
The EyeHarp is a musical instrument guided by the gaze with a potential expressiveness similar to a traditional musical instrument. This project has been developed by Zacharias Vamvakousis, currently studying his Ph.D. in the MTG.

2 Jul 2012 - 09:12 | view
Master thesis presentations

On June 25th, 26th and 27th 2012, there are the presentations of the thesis of the Sound and Music Computing Master that have been carried out during the academic year 2011-2012. The presentations take place in room 52.425 of the Tanger building.

Monday June 25th:

  • 09:30- Jeremy Friedman - 'Gesture-based Improvisation in Music Pedagogy' (Supervisor: Sergi Jorda)
  • 10:15- Sergio Iván Giraldo - 'Measuring Expression in Music Performance: An Expressive Model Obtained from Monophonic Jazz Guitar Recordings' (Supervisor: Rafael Ramirez)
  • 11:00- Stylianos Togias - 'Characterization of the Rhythm of Folk Music in the Mediterranean' (Supervisor: Xavier Serra)
  • 11:45- Andrew Stella, 'Auditory Display of brain oscillatory activity through EEG' (Supervisors: Sebastián Mealla, Sergi Jorda)

Tuesday June 26th:

  • 09:30- Oscar Casanovas - 'Design and evaluation of a non-linear music playback system ' (Supervisor: Jordi Janer)
  • 10:15- Marc Freixes - 'Rapaloid: Adapt an Existing Framework for Emotional Speech Prosody Generation' (Supervisor: Jordi Bonada)
  • 11:00- Lorena Aldana - 'Speaking Nature: Strategies for Generating Credible Utterances of Nature Elements or Phenomena' (Supervisor: Jordi Bonada)
  • 11:45- Emilio Molina - 'Automatic scoring of singing voice based on melodic similarity measures' (Supervisor: Emilia Gómez)

Wednesday June 27th:

  • 09:30- Sankalp Gulati - 'A system for tonic identification for Hindustani and Carnatic music' (supervisor: Xavier Serra)
  • 10:15- Carlos Vaquero - 'Improving the description of instrumental orchestral sounds through ontologies and automatic content analysis in the context of Freesound' (Supervisor: Xavier Serra)
  • 11:00- Panagiotis Melidis - 'Electronic Music Artist Identification' (Supervisor Perfecto Herrera)
  • 11:45- Jordi Hidalgo - 'Source Separation in Cochlear Implants' (Supervisors: Jordi Janer, Waldo Nogueira, Ricard Marxer)
20 Jun 2012 - 18:33 | view
The MTG participates in Sónar

Sónar is the festival of advanced music and multimedia art that takes place at various venues in Barcelona (mainly CCCB and MACBA) in the third week of June since 1994. SonarPro is the Sónar platform where you can watch, experience and find out about the major new developments in the field of technology applied to art. It is an essential area of Sónar that allows both professionals and the sector of the public that is most interested in technological innovation to keep abreast of what is happening in the creative businesses and industries sector, by means of product presentations, lectures by leaders in various disciplines or meetings with other professionals.

The MTG is involved in Sonar organizing the following activities:

  • SonarPro Exhibition: Some projects resulting from IDEC Master's Degree in Digital Arts, the PhD in Sound and Music Computing and Phonos Foundation grants, displayed in the form of interactive installations, being music and sound central features. These projects will be exhibited from Thursday to Saturday at the -1 floor of the CCCB building
  • The 3rd edition of the Music Hack Day in Barcelona. It will take place from Thursday to Friday at the 1st floor of CCCB Theatre. Further details about this edition (including attendees, companies involved, schedule, prizes, etc.) are available at the official website. In addition, the MTG is also organizing the pre-event meeting the day prior to the MHD at our lab. This informal meeting is the perfect chance for hackers, artists and companies involved to get to know each other before the hack day. We will be showcasing some of the projects and technologies the MTG and our spin-off companies are currently involved in. Snacks and drinks will be provided during the event thanks to the goodwill of Reactable Systems.
  • Make, play, share: The future of Music Tech (panel discussion in the frame of MIReS project). MIRES is an EC funded project that aims at defining the challenges awaiting the Music Information Research in the next years. The Sonar Panel intends to look into the future of the Music Industry from three perspectives: Search & Discovery, Creativity and Rights Management and gather first-hand feedback from relevant industry players.

Hope you can join us and enjoy the Festival!

12 Jun 2012 - 20:14 | view
Seminar by Bipin Indurkhya on Perceptual Similarity

Bipin Indurkhya, from the International Institute of Information Technology (Hyderabad, India) gives a seminar on June 14th at 3:30pm in room 52.321 on "Perceptual Similarity, Visual Metaphor and Creativity".

Researchers who study creativity in real-world situations have found that a primary hurdle facing human creativity is in stepping outside of our habitual conceptual association. A few techniques have been suggested to aid this process: making-the-familiar-strange and de-conceptualization, for example. The main objective of these techniques is to help the cognitive agent break the bond of conceptual association it has acquired culturally and through a lifetime of experiences. In this process, imagery, perceptual similarities, and visual metaphors play a key role, as we will demonstrate using several examples.
We are following a number of research veins to explore the role of imagery and visual metaphor in creativity and cognition, and in this talk I will present some of our results. In particular, we will present some experiments to compare and contrast mono-modal (text-text or image-image) vs. cross-modal (text-image) metaphors. We have also investigated how explicit imagery, presented before or after the metaphor, influences the comprehension of metaphor.
We have argued, and demonstrated, in our past research, that computer-based systems can be very helpful in stimulating creativity. For instance, we found that incorporating one familiar but unrelated object in a picture setting, or presenting unrelated pairs of objects to a cognitive agent, and asking them to make a story out of it, or to make sense of it in some other way, stimulates their creativity and imagination.
In another line of research, we are exploring the hypothesis that low-level perceptual similarity — that is, similarity based on low-level perceptual features like color, shape and texture — plays a key role in creation of novel conceptual associations. In other words, we are claiming that if the unrelated object that is introduced into a picture or paired with another object bears some low-level perceptual similarity with other objects in the picture, or with the paired object, it is likely to be more effective in stimulating creativity than a random unrelated object. We will present here the results of some of our preliminary experiments to explore this hypothesis.
As the similarity with respect to low-level perceptual features is determined algorithmically using image-based pattern matching, our approach can be used to design more effective computer-based creativity-support systems. We will present an outline of such architecture and mention a number of possible application domains for such systems.
11 Jun 2012 - 11:00 | view
Phonos concert: Final concert by students of the "Sound Creation Lab" (UPF)

The students from the Sound Creation Lab course at UPF, coordinated by Emilia Gómez and Justin Salamon, will give their final concert (as part of the Phonos concerts) next Wednesday June 13th at 12:30 in the Espai Polivalent in the Communication Campus of the UPF. Free entrance!

7 Jun 2012 - 09:53 | view
PhD Thesis proposals defenses

Gopal Koduri and Sertan Senturk, first year PhD students, will defend their PhD thesis proposals on Tuesday June 12th 2012 in room 55.410.

  • 09:30 - Gopala Krishna Koduri: "Similarity Measures in Indian Art Music Traditions"
  • 10:15 - Sertan Senturk: "Computational Characterization of Seyirs in Makam Music in Turkey"

The jury members are: Marcelo Bertalmio, Emilia Gomez, Xavier Serra

5 Jun 2012 - 15:41 | view