News and Events

Music and sounds from the brain
23 May 2013

On Thursday May 23rd, scientists who study the brain, along with sound researchers and musicians, will join together in the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB) to offer one of the most innovative and exciting shows of recent times. The human brain responds to the melody and rhythm by changing connections between its neurons, and now science and technology allow us to see this process in real time in the show the “Brain on Stage".

During the event, we will present this year's Music Hack Day with focus in Neuroscience and also listen to some of the "Sound Fictions” created by more than 300 young adults in the workshops "Sounds, science and technology" in the frame of the Sons de Barcelona project and follow up the activities that are carried out in the KiiCS European project (Knowledge, Innovation and Incubation in Creation for science) that explores how to encourage innovation and creation by the intersection between art and science.

The event is organized by the Observatori de Comunicació Científica (OCC) from Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) in collaboration with Synthetic Perceptive, Emotive and Cognitive Systems (SPECS) and the Music Technology Group (MTG) from the same university, Phonos Foundation and Institut Municipal d’Educació de Barcelona (IMEB). The workshops "Sounds, science and technology" have the financial support of Fundación Española para la Ciencia y la Tecnología (FECYT).

8 May 2013 - 12:17 | view
Post-doctoral research positions at the UPF

The Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF, Barcelona, Spain) launches the UPFellows program to hire  postdoctoral candidates of any nationality. The first call for applications ends on July 1st 2013.

From the MTG we encourage researchers working on topics related to music technology to apply for these excellent positions. We want to support candidacies that complement and expand our current research areas.

8 May 2013 - 10:43 | view
Seminar by Justin Salamon on how to give a good presentation
8 May 2013

Justin Salamon will give a seminar titled "Even a Geek can Speak: the DO's and DONT's of giving a presentation" on Wednesday, May 8th, at 3:30pm in room 55.410.

Did you know that 93% of the impression you leave after giving a presentation is based on HOW you present your content, and not on WHAT the content actually is? Some people are natural presenters, but most of us aren't. This doesn't mean we can't become great presenters - but it requires dedicating time and thought to our presentation skills and of course practice! This tutorial addresses the basics of giving a successful public presentation, including:

  • The common mistakes you want to avoid
  • How to PLAN: prepare and organise your content before you start (structure, relevance, making it interesting, target audience)
  • How to DESIGN: prepare the actual presentation (content, graphical design, structure, conveying information clearly)
  • How to PRESENT: giving the presentation (timing, body language, using your voice, being funny, answering questions, etc.)

The presentation is geared towards technical presentations (scientific presentations, project proposals, etc.), but should be interesting also for people planning non-technical presentations - there's something in it for everyone!

7 May 2013 - 13:10 | view
MIReS Roadmap

The MIReS project has finished and with it we have completed the MIR Roadmap document. The direct link to the pdf is: An html version is available at:

The document is the result of a very participative process in which many people have been involved. The task of the writers of the document has mainly been an editorial one, trying to capture and summarise what the different stakeholders expressed as being relevant for the future of the field.  We believe that this document is a good resource for the MIR community, so please, use it and abuse it !!

2 May 2013 - 13:21 | view
PhD position on Audio Signal Processing (Source Separation)

The topic for this PhD position is “Source Separation and Signal Modelling of Orchestral Music Mixtures”. This position is funded by the PHENICX project and the starting date is October 2013

Musical Audio Source Separation relates to advanced signal processing methods that allow extracting a given instrument (sound source) from the original recording. In this case, we will focus on classical music recordings that can come in various formats (e.g, stereo catalogue tracks, multi-track on-stage orchestral recordings). The goals shall cover here both score-informed situations, e.g. supported by score-alignment, and blind situations where the score is not available. The project involves collaborating with other researchers at the MTG in the areas of Music Information Retrieval and Advanced Music Interaction, as well as with other international research partners in the PHENICX project.

Modern digital multimedia and internet technology have radically changed the ways people find entertainment and discover new interests online, seemingly without any physical or social barriers. Such new access paradigms are in sharp contrast with the traditional means of entertainment. An illustrative example of this is live music concert performances that are largely being attended by dedicated audiences only. The PHENICX project aims at bridging the gap between the online and offline entertainment worlds. It will make use of the state-of-the-art digital multimedia and internet technology to make the traditional concert experiences rich and universally accessible: concerts will become multimodal, multi-perspective and multilayer digital artefacts that can be easily explored, customized, personalized, (re)enjoyed and shared among the users. The main goal is twofold: (a) to make live concerts appealing to potential new audience and (b) to maximize the quality of concert experience for everyone. Scientific objectives of PHENICX are (i) to generate a reliable and effective set of techniques for multimodal enrichment of live music concert recordings suitable for implementation and deployment in real-world situations, and (ii) finding ways to offer the resulting multi-faceted digital artefacts as engaging digital experiences to a wide range of users. The project will establish a methodological framework to map these scientific objectives onto a solid implementation platform that will be developed incrementally and tested in real-life use settings. PHENICX will mainly focus on classical music - a European heritage asset that suffers heavily from an image of inaccessibility to outsider audiences. However, findings from PHENICX will be relevant to live concert situations in any genre. With an innovative technology partner, as well as two authoritative professional music stakeholders in the consortium, the project has strong immediate impact and dissemination potential.

Applicants should have experience in audio signal processing, and hold a MSc in a related field (e.g. acoustics, telecommunications, electrical engineering, physics, mathematics, or computer sciences). Experience in scientific programming (Matlab/Python/C++) and excellent English are essential. Expertise on source separation, multipitch and timbral analysis or source localization will be considered.

Applicants should send their CV and motivation letter to Jordi Janer (jordi [dot] janer [at] upf [dot] edu (subject: PhD%20position%20on%20Source%20Separation) ) and Emilia Gómez (emilia [dot] gomez [at] upf [dot] edu (subject: PhD%20position%20on%20Source%20Separation) ) before 7th May 2013.

24 Apr 2013 - 16:59 | view
Seminar by Henkjan Honing on music cognition

Henkjan Honing, from the University of Amsterdam, will give a seminar on "Music, Cognition and the Origins of Musicality" on April 26th, Friday, at 15:30h in room 55.309.

Abstract: While it recently became quite popular to address the study of the origins of music from an evolutionary perspective, there is still little agreement on the idea that music is in fact an adaptation, that it influenced our survival, or that it made us sexually more attractive. Music appears to be of little use. So why argue that music is an adaptation? While it is virtually impossible to underpin the evolutionary role of musicality as a whole, the apparent innateness, and the species and cognitive specificity of its hypothesized components allow prof. dr Henkjan Honing to outline what makes us musical animals.

22 Apr 2013 - 16:01 | view
Seminar by Fabien Gouyon on a critical take on MIR

Fabien Gouyon, from INESC-Porto, will give a seminar on thursday April 25th 2013 at 3:30pm in room 55.321 on "Are we there yet?! A critical take on some Music Information Retrieval technologies."

Abstract: The amount and availability of professionally-produced or user-generated media is continuously increasing; the ways we interact with media today and how we expect to do it tomorrow are profoundly changing. In order to empower these changes, Information Technologies deal to a large extent with tackling new issues emerging in media processing. For instance, Music Information Retrieval (MIR) is a fast-paced multidisciplinary research community focusing on the processing of an ubiquitous, yet particularly challenging type of media: Music. Typical MIR tasks include e.g. automatic music genre recognition, inferring "tags" or tracking beats from audio signals, and applications range from playlist generation to personalized music recommendation. Scientific publications regularly report improvements in such tasks, and for a number of those, reported results appear to be reaching very high performances. In this talk, I will focus on a critical overview of some results reported in the MIR community, and argue that there is still much road ahead of us until MIR technologies will be truly useful in reliable, large-scale IT systems.

19 Apr 2013 - 16:35 | view
Ines Salselas defends her PhD thesis on April 26th

Ines Salselas defends her PhD thesis entitled "Exploring interactions between music and language during the early development of music cognition. A computational modelling approach" on Friday 26th of April 2013 at 11:00h in room 55.309.

The jury members of the defense are: Fabien Gouyon (INESC Porto), Henkjan Honing (University of Amsterdam), Nuria Sebastian (UPF).

Abstract: This dissertation concerns the computational modelling of early life development of music perception and cognition. Experimental psychology and neuroscience show results that suggest that the development of musical representations in infancy, whether concerning pitch or rhythm features, depend on exposure both to music and language. Early musical and linguistic skills seem to be, therefore, tangled in ways we are yet to characterize. In parallel, computational modelling has produced powerful frameworks for the study of learning and development. The use of these models for studying the development of music information perception and cognition, connecting music and language still remains to be explored.
This way, we propose to produce computational solutions suitable for studying factors that contribute to shape our cognitive structure, building our predispositions that allow us to enjoy and make sense of music. We will also adopt a comparative approach to the study of early development of musical predispositions that involves both music and language, searching for possible interactions and correlations. With this purpose, we first address pitch representation (absolute vs relative) and its relations with development. Simulations have allowed us to observe a parallel between learning and the type of pitch information being used, where the type of encoding that was being used influenced the ability of the model to perform a discrimination task correctly. Next, we have performed a prosodic characterization of infant-directed speech and singing by comparing rhythmic and melodic patterning in two Portuguese (European and Brazilian) variants. In the computational experiments, rhythm related descriptors exhibited a strong predictive ability for both speech and singing language variants’ discrimination tasks, presenting different rhythmic patterning for each variant. This reveals that the prosody of the surrounding sonic environment of an infant is a source of rich information and rhythm as a key element for characterizing the prosody from language and songs from each culture. Finally, we propose a computational model based on temporal information processing and representation for exploring how the temporal prosodic patterns of a specific culture influence the development of rhythmic representations and predispositions. The simulations show that exposure to the surrounding sound environment influences the development of temporal representations and that the structure of the exposure environment, specifically the lack of maternal songs, has an impact on how the model organizes its internal representations.
We conclude that there is a reciprocal influence between music and language. It is from the exposure to the structure of the sonic background that we shape our cognitive structure, which supports our understanding of musical experience. Among the sonic background, language’s structure has a predominant role in the building of musical predispositions and representations.

18 Apr 2013 - 18:13 | view
Registration for the Neuro Music Hack Day is now open!
15 Apr 2013 - 15 May 2013

In addition to the regular Music Hack Day track, this year’s BCN Music Hack Day includes a special Neuro-track that aims at providing a set of useful tools, hardware and APIs to encourage hacks that bring together music, brain signals and other physiological sensors.

Through this approach, we want to encourage the creation of new ways of music creation and interaction using physiological signals. In the same line, the MHD will offer a pre-event introductory workshop on June 12th where the different hardware devices (BCI, Enobio, and other physiological sensors), which will be made available to participants of the MHD, and the related APIs will be presented to all participants interested on developing hacks within the neuroscience track.

In the registration form you can either choose the Regular Music Hack Day Track or the Neuro Music Hack Day Track, depending on your background and/or hacking interests. Space for this event is limited so we can't guarantee everyone a spot. We'll try to keep things on a first come, first served basis, whilst at the same time ensuring that we have a good mix of people who are prepared to build something or contribute in some other valuable way. We'll send out a confirmation email as the date approaches and will accommodate as many hackers as we can.

15 Apr 2013 - 11:11 | view
Freesound: 8th anniversary

Today is the 8th anniversary of Freesound! Congratulations to the researchers, developers, moderators, donors and users who have been and are part of this project for the success achieved so far. Thanks to the collaboration of this great community we have now more than 160.000 free sounds from all over the world.

Freesound was started in 2005 in our research group. One of the first aims behind it was to create an open repository of sounds to be used for scientific and artistic research, but quickly became a very popular site used by a wide variety of people to share sounds and the experiences around them. Users upload sounds recorded or created by themselves and share them under Creative Commons licenses. The sounds in Freesound have good quality, are free and legal, so professionals from different fields (cinema, music, videogames, software...) as well as amateur users, use them in their works.

Freesound has now 3.5 million registered users around the world, about 40.000 unique visits a day, and the total number of unique visits in those eight years has been more than 57 million, coming from almost all the countries of the world.

There are many successful usages of the sounds in Freesound, for example in the movie Children of Men and in a song of the internationally known band The Prodigy. Freesound has received several awards, such as a BMW award, a Barcelona City award and a Google research award twice. But what is most important, during all those years users have shared really amazing sounds. Find the opinion of the community about the coolest sounds on Freesound:

The interest for sharing sounds keeps growing and the community of active users of Freesound is also growing. For the MTG, Freesound offers an exceptional framework with which to carry research in the context of semantic web technologies. But we are specially proud of being able to offer a very useful service to the society.

5 Apr 2013 - 09:26 | view