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Software and tools to better understand and appreciate music?

Posted: Sun Sep 01, 2019 7:43 pm
by nilshi
Hello,

suppose you have discovered a new musical piece, and it turns out you like it.
I am looking for software that can help to answer the question: What makes this music good?

Besides pure listening (learning to analyze it by ear or just brute force listening to it many times) what software do you know that helps us to understand the music better? In any way.

Re: Software and tools to better understand and appreciate music?

Posted: Sun Sep 01, 2019 7:46 pm
by lilith
I would be surprised if anything like that exists.

Re: Software and tools to better understand and appreciate music?

Posted: Sun Sep 01, 2019 8:59 pm
by Fmajor7add9
nilshi wrote:Hello,

suppose you have discovered a new musical piece, and it turns out you like it.
I am looking for software that can help to answer the question: What makes this music good?

Besides pure listening (learning to analyze it by ear or just brute force listening to it many times) what software do you know that helps us to understand the music better? In any way.
There have been some algori(/y)thm aided statistical projects that has trawled through thousands of charts and provided data to the academics studying the field. Like how length, tempo, keys, intervals, structure have changed over time. Sorry, can't recall any details, only the gist of it but I believe it was used against commercial billboard charts and thus easier to define and rank than 'good'.

Rick Beato's 'What Makes This Song Great?' is Great since he has the master tapes to solo out and zoom in on precisely so there's a tool to learn from. He's very detailed and knowledgeable about harmonic structure, instrument choices and traits of the different songwriters. Still, his definitions of 'Great' are as arbitrary as anyone's. Someone on another channel with the same tools could just as well present a strong case for why Beato's song pick isn't that great.

Services like shazam, last.fm. spotify must also have some robots crawling around, with all kinds of parameters applied to the songs in their database and their listeners habits. Probably not something they share on github but maybe will license out to songwriters and taste makers one day.

Pretty sure that if something like that existed our pattern recognition ears would filter out the machine music from the human touched, creative, personal immediately.
Even when the Turing test gets passed and Watson has tracking data from millions of peoples lives to hook into, what should skynet gorillaz write good songs about?

Re: Software and tools to better understand and appreciate music?

Posted: Sun Sep 01, 2019 9:17 pm
by Fmajor7add9
Maybe tools like http://www.hooktheory.com/blog/chord-pr ... nd-trends/

Please don't use it. Make a punk band instead.

Re: Software and tools to better understand and appreciate music?

Posted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 3:12 pm
by Basslint
nilshi wrote:Hello,

suppose you have discovered a new musical piece, and it turns out you like it.
I am looking for software that can help to answer the question: What makes this music good?

Besides pure listening (learning to analyze it by ear or just brute force listening to it many times) what software do you know that helps us to understand the music better? In any way.
What you are talking about belongs to a discipline called "Musicology". There are many libre programs developed for musicology, there is even a standard for plugins called VAMP, you just have to do some searches on the web because I believe most of those programs are developed by academics and can't be easily found in distro repos.

Re: Software and tools to better understand and appreciate music?

Posted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 4:45 pm
by merlyn
nilshi wrote:What makes this music good?
It's the listener's brain that makes music good.

Software could analyse a .wav file and generate data about the music like tempo, groove (it would be interesting to define that), complexity of harmony, intervals, but good needs a nervous system.

So the software to analyse good would involve e.g. a functional MRI scan while a listener was listening to music.

Correlations could then be made between chords, melodies, and rhythms and brain activity.

I saw a programme called The Secret Science of Pop where an evolutionary biologist applies big data to writing a pop song with the help of world class producer Trevor Horn. The song is rubbish! :)

Re: Software and tools to better understand and appreciate music?

Posted: Tue Sep 03, 2019 12:33 pm
by thumbknuckle
It has been my experience that there is no substitute for hard listening. Even if you had an application that could transcribe for you, if you aren't hearing it you haven't learned anything.

For slowing down, looping sections, and transposing when learning stuff I use playitslowly. Super simple and useful little program.

Re: Software and tools to better understand and appreciate music?

Posted: Tue Sep 03, 2019 2:29 pm
by nilshi
So, two answers so far.

-VAMP Plugins
-PlayItSlowly

Let me add:
-Sonic Visualizer (uses VAMP)
-Wolf-Spectrum

Re: Software and tools to better understand and appreciate music?

Posted: Tue Sep 03, 2019 5:43 pm
by merlyn
You can get Perfect Ear for your phone.

Re: Software and tools to better understand and appreciate music?

Posted: Tue Sep 03, 2019 6:01 pm
by nilshi
merlyn wrote:You can get Perfect Ear for your phone.
That is not even close to the topic of this thread: "Besides listening".

Re: Software and tools to better understand and appreciate music?

Posted: Tue Sep 03, 2019 9:46 pm
by milo
There is also the Music Animation Machine: http://www.musanim.com/Player/. Unfortunately this is Windows only software. I tried to run it under Wine once but couldn't get it working.

Here is an example of what it does: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipzR9bhei_o. It also has a circle of 5ths mode, IIRC.

Re: Software and tools to better understand and appreciate music?

Posted: Wed Sep 04, 2019 4:20 am
by Fmajor7add9
milo wrote:There is also the Music Animation Machine: http://www.musanim.com/Player/. Unfortunately this is Windows only software. I tried to run it under Wine once but couldn't get it working.

Here is an example of what it does: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipzR9bhei_o. It also has a circle of 5ths mode, IIRC.
Fan-tas-tic, thanks a lot. The animations opened up the piece more than ever before for me, or connected eyes and ears in a way sheet music can't as a slow speller not reader thereof.

From 1996, must be a precursor to those play along video games with 'instruments' years later.

http://www.musanim.com/mam/mamfaq.html - it doesn't listen to a recording but reads MIDI files.
nilshi wrote:So, two answers so far.

-VAMP Plugins
-PlayItSlowly

Let me add:
-Sonic Visualizer (uses VAMP)
-Wolf-Spectrum
Interesting, is that the same kind of tech behind automation for controlling light fx at the disco, that follows tempo and 'expression' of a piece? Just wondering...

Re: Software and tools to better understand and appreciate music?

Posted: Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:41 pm
by milo
Fmajor7add9 wrote:Fan-tas-tic, thanks a lot. The animations opened up the piece more than ever before for me, or connected eyes and ears in a way sheet music can't as a slow speller not reader thereof.

From 1996, must be a precursor to those play along video games with 'instruments' years later.

http://www.musanim.com/mam/mamfaq.html - it doesn't listen to a recording but reads MIDI files.
I agree. Watching Tocatta and Fugue in D minor with MAMplayer really helped me to understand what was happening in the song. My favorite pieces to watch are fugues, but anything polyphonic is interesting.

I have always wished for a similar tool that could read audio files, not just midi, but I know that's asking too much. It could be done, but it wouldn't look as clean as the midi version.

There was an old Android app (no longer available) called PitchLab, which was my favorite chromatic tuner. It had a mode where it would show the audio spectrum of the mic input as a scroll like in MAMplayer, and it was cool to watch. Messy, but cool.