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Title: Computational analysis of world music corpora
Author: Panteli, Maria
Awarding Body: Queen Mary University of London
Current Institution: Queen Mary, University of London
Date of Award: 2018
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The comparison of world music cultures has been considered in musicological research since the end of the 19th century. Traditional methods from the field of comparative musicology typically involve the process of manual music annotation. While this provides expert knowledge, the manual input is timeconsuming and limits the potential for large-scale research. This thesis considers computational methods for the analysis and comparison of world music cultures. In particular, Music Information Retrieval (MIR) tools are developed for processing sound recordings, and data mining methods are considered to study similarity relationships in world music corpora. MIR tools have been widely used for the study of (mainly) Western music. The first part of this thesis focuses on assessing the suitability of audio descriptors for the study of similarity in world music corpora. An evaluation strategy is designed to capture challenges in the automatic processing of world music recordings and different state-of-the-art descriptors are assessed. Following this evaluation, three approaches to audio feature extraction are considered, each addressing a different research question. First, a study of singing style similarity is presented. Singing is one of the most common forms of musical expression and it has played an important role in the oral transmission of world music. Hand-designed pitch descriptors are used to model aspects of the singing voice and clustering methods reveal singing style similarities in world music. Second, a study on music dissimilarity is performed. While musical exchange is evident in the history of world music it might be possible that some music cultures have resisted external musical influence. Low-level audio features are combined with machine learning methods to find music examples that stand out in a world music corpus, and geographical patterns are examined. The last study models music similarity using descriptors learned automatically with deep neural networks. It focuses on identifying music examples that appear to be similar in their audio content but share no (obvious) geographical or cultural links in their metadata. Unexpected similarities modelled in this way uncover possible hidden links between world music cultures. This research investigates whether automatic computational analysis can uncover meaningful similarities between recordings of world music. Applications derive musicological insights from one of the largest world music corpora studied so far. Computational analysis as proposed in this thesis advances the state-of-the-art in the study of world music and expands the knowledge and understanding of musical exchange in the world.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Queen Mary
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Electronic Engineering and Computer Science ; comparative musicology ; world music cultures ; Music Information Retrieval