Feb 7, 2013

America — A Horse With No Name

Here’s an interesting problem I was having for a few weeks:

I had a very specific melodic part of this song stuck in my head (the la-la-la part). I didn’t know the track name or the artist who sang it.

How do you input a melody you have in your head into a search form? (short answer: you don’t really, yet)

To expand the problem outside the scope of my specific situation, I believe the real constraint here exists in how we relate to our input methods.

Musical ideas have always been challenging to externalize. Some of us spend years of our lives studying an instrument, and still feel like we aren’t accurately communicating our internal ideas to the external world. Add another layer of mediation to work through (a digital layer, in this case) and this communication becomes even more difficult. 

I knew I had first heard this song on my media server — I curate a 35,000-item digital media library with my roommate on a server in our living room and it’s a great way for us to share taste and discover new music. However, unearthing one song in tens of thousands without any search terms is not a realistic task.

I ended up singing to my roommate like an idiot and describing that it “sounded like Fleetwood Mac” and he knew right away what song it was. It worked because we’re both musicians. Human still trumps machine, I guess. 

The question still remains: how do we digitize this process?
How do we digitize musical ideas for the purposes of informatics?

  1. expandrew posted this