Monday, April 7, 2008

Name this tune...

An interesting paper appeared in Psychology of Music, titled "Memory and metamemory for songs: the relative effectiveness of titles, lyrics, and melodies as cues for each other" by Pyrnircioglu, Rabinaovitz, and Thompson. There findings indicate that while people cannot remember lyrics well when given a title or melody, lyrics are better to remember titles or melodies than using titles or melodies to remember the other. However, if someone couldn't remember the target with certainty, they were asked to pick one of four choices and then asked how sure they were. In this case, lyrics were seen as not much help when used to try to remember a melody or title, even though they scored best when used. Also, even though lyrics were the never really remembered given a melody or title, people picked their choices with more certainty.

I find this pretty fascinating, but it would be interesting to see an additional study: the roles of tags and non-acoustic information. Many content-based retrieval algorithms are bootstrapping their acoustic classifiers with textual descriptions (e.g., tags). The basic idea stems from websites such as However, I've never seen that these tags remain universal in meaning. For example, given that a song is listed with the tag "grunge," can we safely assume that everyone would understand this? Or are tags only valuable to the person that assigned them? It's probably somewhere in the middle, like genres. However, give enough tags, we can get a good "picture" of what the song contains.

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