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Conference Report


D-Lib Magazine
November/December 2009

Volume 15 Number 11/12

ISSN 1082-9873

Report on WEMIS 2009

ECDL Workshop on Exploring Musical Information Spaces, Corfu 1-2 October 2009


Nicola Orio
University of Padova

Andreas Rauber
Vienna University of Technology

David Rizo
University of Alicante

Red Line


One of the satellite workshops of the XIII European Conference on Digital Libraries was the Workshop on Exploring Musical Information Spaces (WEMIS), organized by Nicola Orio of the University of Padova, Andreas Rauber of the Vienna University of Technology and David Rizo of the University of Alicante. The goal of this workshop was to promote the interchange of ideas and communication of results between researchers in two related disciplines: digital libraries and music information retrieval. This goal motivated the choice of organizing WEMIS as a satellite ECDL workshop, which was done in order to underline the importance of designing and developing methods for music access and retrieval in combination with digital library technologies. In fact, although it is an emerging research area with an increasing number of research projects related to music digital libraries, music information retrieval is still underrepresented at digital library conferences, and yet on the other hand, research results on music digital libraries are not often presented at music processing conferences, such as the International Society for Music Information Retrieval Conferences (ISMIR) or the International Computer Music Conference (ICMC).

WEMIS was organized in four plenary sessions, divided between two half-days. The idea of splitting the workshop into two different days aimed at promoting socialization among participants, which is more difficult in case of an event that lasts just a single day. The approach proved successful, because an unofficial social event was organized in the form of a dinner including almost all the participants, favoring a very friendly atmosphere during the sessions. As expected, WEMIS was also the occasion for researchers working in related areas to exchange ideas, draw new connections, and envisage collaborations.

After a double blind peer reviewing process, which involved a program committee of about 20 experts in the domain, WEMIS accepted a total of 13 papers, which addressed different aspects of the relationships between digital libraries and music processing and retrieval. The proceedings, which are in electronic form with ISBN 978-84-692-6082-1, are freely available on-line at

As expected, some of the presentations reported on projects focusing on the development of music digital libraries. In particular, two presentations discussed the methodological choices of two ongoing music digital library projects, focusing on the preservation and dissemination of audio recordings (The Vicentini Sound Archive of the Arena di Verona, by Bressan, Canazza and Salvati) and on the distribution of digital scores (The NEUMA Project: Towards Cooperative On-line Music Score Libraries, by Abrouk, Audéon, Cullot, Davy-Rigaux, Faget, Gross-Amblard, Lee, Rigaux, Tacaille, Gavignet, and Thion-Goasdoué). Moreover, a proposal on the extension of a preservation approach to music installations was presented (Preserving Today for Tomorrow: A Case Study of an Archive of Interactive Music Installations, by Bressan, Canazza, Rodà and Orio). One of the contributions described the development of a graphical user interface for the navigation inside a collection of ethnic music (A Location-tracking Interface for Ethnomusicological Collections, by Magas and Proutskova). This contribution highlighted the need for graphical cues as an aid to the final user, for instance to geographically locate the music documents in the collection.

Another important aspect covered at WEMIS was that of large-scale evaluation. This issue, which is tightly related to the development of effective tools for music digital libraries, was addressed by two contributions. In particular, one study discussed the effectiveness of different audio feature sets applied to the visual representation of music similarity (Analytic Comparison of Audio Feature Sets using Self-Organising Maps, by Mayer, Frank and Rauber) together with a study on the use of a combination of different information sources, including audio content and song lyrics, for a genre classification task (Multi-modal Analysis of Music: A Large-Scale Evaluation, by Mayer and Neumayer). The effectiveness of a variety of different methods was evaluated in another contribution, where a carefully chosen combination of state-of-the-art methods was proposed as a way to increase the effectiveness of polyphonic music similarity measures (Ensemble of State-of-the-art Methods for Polyphonic Music Comparison, by Rizo, Iñesta and Lemström).

One of the open problems in music information retrieval is the definition of the similarity between music items, which impacts the effectiveness of content-based search tools. The problem of defining and computing a suitable music similarity measure underlies most of the contributions presented at WEMIS, but it was the main focus of three presentations that addressed different facets of similarity, those based on timbre and spectral features (Timbre Similarity Search with Metric Data Structures, by Costa and Barbosa), on harmonic content (Measuring Harmonic Similarity Using PPM-based Compression Distance, by Ahonen), and on a combination of harmonic and rhythmic features (Integration of Chroma and Rhythm Histograms Features in a Music Identification System, by Miotto and Montecchio).

Finally, the relationship between music and textual content was investigated in three presentations. One contribution presented an approach to the automatic extraction of high-level textual music descriptors, such as key and time signatures, from music files in symbolic format (Metamidi: A Tool for Automatic Metadata Extraction from MIDI Files, by Pérez-Garcia, Iñesta and Rizo). A cross-domain personalization task was presented as well, which combined the recommendation of places of interest with the selection of a suitable music soundtrack, where the similarity between music documents and points of interest for touristic applications was computed using textual tags (Matching Places of Interest with Music, by Kaminskas and Ricci). The relationship between music and textual content was addressed from a different point of view in the third contribution, which analysed the content of textual queries aimed at retrieving suitable soundtracks for TV commercials (Towards the Disintermediation of Creative Music Search: Analysing Queries To Determine Important Facets, by Inskip, MacFarlane and Rafferty).

As a final outcome of the positive results of WEMIS, the International Journal of Digital Libraries is organizing a special issue on Music Digital Libraries, which will cover in more detail the main topics addressed at the workshop. The organizers of WEMIS will be the guest editors of the special issue.

Copyright © 2009 Nicola Orio, Andreas Rauber, and David Rizo

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