Going for a song

New software will enable people to do online searches for songs simply by singing into the computer.

RMIT University’s  Dr Sandra Uitdenbogerd is developing software that will enable people to do online searches for songs simply by singing into the computer.

Dr Uitdenbogerd is working on the music retrieval technology with RMIT School of Computer Science and IT colleagues, Associate Professor Vic Ciesielski and Dr Falk Scholer, as well as RMIT undergraduate and research students.

An internet connection, a microphone, the relevant software and a half-way decent singing voice are the only tools the end user needs.

The ease with which the software can be used belies the complexity of the underlying code and the exhaustive research and development of the software. Dr Uitdenbogerd predicts it is about three to four years away from being available for commercial use.

However, significant progress has been made. Dr Uitdenbogerd said that the software had been developed to the point where working prototypes existed that allowed users to search for songs in basic MIDI format.

‘We now have the challenge of enabling the software to match voice signals with more sophisticated music formats like MP3s,’ Dr Uitdenbogerd said.

The back-end process of matching the user’s singing to an actual piece of music is complex. ‘The singing is stored in the computer as a waveform and then must be converted into note information before it can be matched against the music,’ said Dr Uitdenbogerd.

‘The converted fragment of recorded singing is compared with the note information extracted from the audio files in the online music collection that’s being searched. The user then gets a list of matches that they can download.’