Friday, 27 March 2009

working toward a rigorous definition of 'continuous mixing'

So I have been thinking about this idea of continuous mixing, or generally speaking, more content aware automatic song to song transitions for some time now. To that end I'm aiming to put something together for DAfX on the topic. As this deadline for submission is fast approaching, my writing is generally focus in that direction. In the meantime however, I'll throw out a vague english definition of continuous mixing so that you the reader can get an idea of where I'm coming from on this topic, with some more rigorous definitions to follow.

continuous mixing: A song to song mixing technique where the goal is to obfuscate the transition between the two songs such that a casual listener cannot immediately pinpoint when the transition occurred. This can involve the use of beat matching/alignment, phrase matching/alignment, content aware equalization and other technical elements as well as sensible song selection with regard to harmony (i.e. key changes that make musical sense).

So that's my starting point. Anyone else have an opinion? What is continuous mixing mean to you? Bonus question! When is continuous mixing an appropriate transition technique in playlist presentation? I'm starting with modern electronic dance music, but these techniques can certainly apply to other musics (speed metal? maybe. free jazz? probably not...)

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

What is 'continuous mixing'?

So as some of you may have noticed iTunes 8.1 just came out. It contains something called iTunes DJ. There are two interesting claims it makes, one of which is good and the other, well, would be good if they did it. As near as i can tell (I've only played around with it for a couple minutes) iTunes DJ is basically Party Shuffle++.

The new thing that's rad is a new remote voting feature. If a bunch of people are at a party and they have iPod touch/iPhones they can vote for tracks to be included the ongoing playlist. This is a great idea generally (though I wonder what the avg house party ipod user % is like...). I've been playing with some other democratically driven social playlists, though mine are a bit less direct, involving voting on the destination of a small chunk of a playlist.

The new that's not so rad is this claim about continuous mixing. The splash page states that "iTunes DJ automatically picks songs to make a continuous mix of your music." Since I'm working on automatic continuous mixing that got my attention. But the thing is they don't mean take a few track beat align them, overlap them, phrase align the crossfading etc. Apparently they mean constantly select some tracks using nearly random criteria (seriously, the second track it picked was a chapter from a book on tape that's in my iTunes library. It's even genre labeled ' Books & Spoken' so I don't know what sort of engine thinks that's a good track for the DJ playlist). I realize that at some level this a matter of language. Clearly whoever made the splash page doesn't have the same meaning in mind for 'continuous' that I do, which involves smooth mixing or at least removal of leading and trailing silence. But I guess I just think that if you're going to call a piece of software a DJ it ought to act like one.[/rant]

ISMIR tutorials

So I don't know exactly when this happened, but the ISMIR 2009 folks have published the tutorial schedule.  I of course already knew about mine and the music and the semantic web tutorial presented by Yves, Kurt et al.  The other 2 are 'MIR at the Scale of the Web' by Malcom Slaney and Micheal Casey, which I imagine will be all about using audiodb + LSH with extremely large collections of music.  I'm sure this will be a great tutorial so it's unfortunate that you won't be able to attend this tutorial and mine as they're at the same time.  In the other afternoon session you can attend 'Using Visualizations for Music Discovery' presented by Justin Donaldson and Paul Lamere.  As they both do great work I'm sure it will be an excellent tutorial as well.  Also, as a bonus, the tutorials happen to fall on the day of my birth, so there's that as well.  Kobe is shaping up to be a conference packed full of goodness...