Clustering beat-chroma patterns in a large music database

Bertin-Mahieux, Thierry; Weiss, Ron J.; Ellis, Daniel P. W.

A musical style or genre implies a set of common conventions and patterns combined and deployed in different ways to make individual musical pieces; for instance, most would agree that contemporary pop music is assembled from a relatively small palette of harmonic and melodic patterns. The purpose of this paper is to use a database of tens of thousands of songs in combination with a compact representation of melodic-harmonic content (the beat-synchronous chromagram) and data-mining tools (clustering) to attempt to explicitly catalog this palette — at least within the limitations of the beat-chroma representation. We use online k-means clustering to summarize 3.7 million 4-beat bars in a codebook of a few hundred prototypes. By measuring how accurately such a quantized codebook can reconstruct the original data, we can quantify the degree of diversity (distortion as a function of codebook size) and temporal structure (i.e. the advantage gained by joint quantizing multiple frames) in this music. The most popular codewords themselves reveal the common chords used in the music. Finally, the quantized representation of music can be used for music retrieval tasks such as artist and genre classification, and identifying songs that are similar in terms of their melodic-harmonic content.


Also Published In

ISMIR 2010: Proceedings of the 11th International Society for Music Information Retrieval Conference, August 9-13, 2010, Utrecht, Netherlands
International Society for Music Information Retrieval

More About This Work

Academic Units
Electrical Engineering
Published Here
June 25, 2012