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Humming to Hits: “The Technology Behind Song Recognition” Humming based song recognition – Prof. Kavitha K N

27th May 2024

Have you ever found yourself humming a tune, only to have the name of the song on the tip of your tongue, frustratingly out of reach? You’re not alone. This is a common scenario for many music lovers who experience the occasional “earworm”—a catchy piece of music that continuously repeats through a person’s mind. But thanks to advancements in technology, particularly in the domain of artificial intelligence and machine learning, identifying those puzzling tunes has become noticeably  simple.

Imagine this: you’re casually humming a melody, perhaps one that you’ve heard on the radio or a snippet from a TV show. In the past, you might have struggled to remember the name of the song or had to ask friends and hope someone recognized it. Today, all you need to do is hum a few bars into your smartphone, and with a quick tap, services like Google’s music recognition feature can identify the song for you. It feels almost magical, yet it’s a product of sophisticated technology working seamlessly behind the scenes.

This blog explores into the fascinating world of music recognition technology. We will explore how it works, the science behind it, and the incredible algorithms that make it possible to identify a song from just a hum. From the basics of sound wave analysis to the intricate workings of neural networks, we’ll uncover the layers of innovation that transform a simple hum into a recognized track. So, next time a melody gets stuck in your head, you’ll know exactly what technological marvels are at play to help you name that tune.

The Basics: Sound Wave Analysis

The journey of song recognition begins with the analysis of sound waves. When you hum a tune into your device, the microphone captures the audio input as a wave. This wave is then converted into a digital signal that represents the amplitude and frequency of the sound over time. Here’s a breakdown of the initial steps:

  1. Sound Capture: The microphone converts the hum into an analog signal.
  2. Analog-to-Digital Conversion: This analog signal is digitized, resulting in a series of numbers that describe the sound wave.
  3. Feature Extraction: Key features of the sound wave, such as pitch, tempo, and timbre, are extracted. This step is crucial as it reduces the complexity of the data while retaining essential information about the melody.

Creating the Fingerprint: Spectrograms and Feature Vectors

Once the basic features are extracted, the next step is to create a unique “fingerprint” of the humming. This is done using a spectrogram, which is a visual representation of the spectrum of frequencies in a sound signal as they vary with time.

  1. Spectrogram Generation: The digitized sound wave is transformed into a spectrogram, highlighting the intensity of different frequencies at each moment in time.

Spectrograms convert the audio signal into a visual representation, showing the frequencies of the audio signal over time. This conversion allows machine learning models to work with numerical data, making it easier to extract features for music generation tasks.

  1. Feature Vector Creation: From the spectrogram, feature vectors are generated. These vectors capture the unique aspects of the melody and are used for comparison with a database of known songs.

Advanced Matching: Neural Networks and Machine Learning

The real magic happens when these feature vectors are fed into machine learning algorithms, particularly neural networks, which are designed to recognize patterns and make predictions based on large datasets.

  1. Neural Network Training: Neural networks are trained on vast datasets of songs. During training, the network learns to identify and differentiate between various melodies, rhythms, and harmonic structures.

Spectrograms are  used as input data for deep learning models such as convolutional neural networks (CNNs) or recurrent neural networks (RNNs). These models can learn complex patterns and correlations in the spectrogram data to generate new music.

  1. Pattern Recognition: When a new hum is inputted, the neural network compares the feature vectors of the hum with those in its database. It identifies patterns and matches them to known songs.
  2. Probability and Ranking: The network then provides a list of possible song matches, ranked by the probability of each match being correct.

The Role of Databases: Comprehensive Music Libraries

Behind every effective music recognition system is a comprehensive and constantly updated database of songs. These databases contain millions of tracks, each indexed with detailed feature vectors that facilitate quick and accurate matching.

  1. Database Management: Large music libraries are maintained and continuously updated to include new releases and obscure tracks.
  2. Indexing and Retrieval: Efficient algorithms index these libraries, ensuring that the recognition process is both fast and accurate.

User Interaction: Seamless Experience

The end-user experience is designed to be as seamless as possible. From the moment you start humming, complex processes are triggered behind the scenes, but the user interface remains simple and intuitive.

  1. User Input: The user hums a melody and submits it through the application.
  2. Real-Time Processing: The system processes the hum in real-time, performing sound wave analysis, feature extraction, and pattern matching almost instantaneously.
  3. Result Display: Within seconds, the user is presented with the most likely song matches, often accompanied by links to listen to the full track or learn more about it.

Conclusion: The Symphony of Technology

The ability to identify songs from a simple hum is a testament to the remarkable advancements in audio analysis, machine learning, and neural networks. This technology not only showcases the power of modern computing but also enhances our interaction with music, making it more accessible and enjoyable. The next time you hum a tune and get an instant match, remember the sophisticated layers of innovation working behind the scenes, transforming your melody into a recognized track.

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