Audio content processing for automatic music genre classification: descriptors, databases, and classifiers

Enric Guaus
University Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain (2009)


This dissertation presents, discusses, and sheds some light on the problems that appear when computers try to automatically classify musical genres from audio signals. In particular, a method is proposed for the automatic music genre classification by using a computational approach that is inspired in music cognition and musicology in addition to Music Information Retrieval techniques. In this context, we design a set of experiments by combining the different elements that may affect the accuracy in the classification (audio descriptors, machine learning algorithms, etc.). We evaluate, compare and analyze the obtained results in order to explain the existing glass-ceiling in genre classification, and propose new strategies to overcome it. Moreover, starting from the polyphonic audio content processing we include musical and cultural aspects of musical genre that have usually been neglected in the current state of the art approaches.

This work studies different families of audio descriptors related to timbre, rhythm, tonality and other facets of music, which have not been frequently addressed in the literature. Some of these descriptors are proposed by the author and others come from previous existing studies. We also compare machine learning techniques commonly used for classification and analyze how they can deal with the genre classification problem. We also present a discussion on their ability to represent the different classification models proposed in cognitive science. Moreover, the classification results using the machine learning techniques are contrasted with the results of some listening experiments proposed. This comparison drive us to think of a specific architecture of classifiers that will be justified and described in detail. It is also one of the objectives of this dissertation to compare results under different data configurations, that is, using different datasets, mixing them and reproducing some real scenarios in which genre classifiers could be used (huge datasets). As a conclusion, we discuss how the classification architecture here proposed can break the existing glass-ceiling effect in automatic genre classification.

To sum up, this dissertation contributes to the field of automatic genre classification: a) It provides a multidisciplinary review of musical genres and its classification; b) It provides a qualitative and quantitative evaluation of families of audio descriptors used for automatic classification; c) It evaluates different machine learning techniques and their pros and cons in the context of genre classification; d) It proposes a new architecture of classifiers after analyzing music genre classification from different disciplines; e) It analyzes the behavior of this proposed architecture in different environments consisting of huge or mixed datasets.

[BibTex, External Link, Return]