Thank you for the music

An engineer at Sun Microsystems’ Laboratories is exploring new ways of categorizing, indexing and organizing large collections of music.

Paul Lamere, an engineer at Sun Microsystems’ Laboratories in Burlington, MA, is exploring new ways of categorizing, indexing and organizing large collections of music to allow people to searching through their collections more effectively.

In the last decade, the size of digital music collections has increased dramatically. The capacity of MP3 Players has increased from a dozen songs to 10,000 songs or more.

But even though the size of such collections have grown, the tools offered to music consumers to find music have not changed much. They still browse by music genre or search for music by artist, album or song title just as they used to do in record store. As music collections get larger, however, it is getting a lot harder for people to find music, especially new music that they might like, using these simple search tools.

Lamere’s ’Search Inside the Music’ project aims to rectify the matter by extending the traditional music search capability of software to search ’inside the music’, that is, to search not just titles, keywords and artists, but to search music by music content and context.

The aim is to help people find and organize their music based on all the properties of the music including such attributes as acoustic similarity, mood, lyrics, musical theme, melody, tempo, rhythm, and instrumentation.

Lamere and his colleague are currently focusing on two areas: using acoustic similarity to help people find music that ’sounds similar’ to music that they already like, and using social data to recommend and organize music based upon the listening habits of people with similar musical tastes.

Listen to Lamere describe his work here: