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Machine Learning and MP3s 228

Posted by Hemos
from the the-right-song-for-the-right-time dept.
dan moore writes "Students at Caltech and Harvard have developed a system that analyzes playlists and learns people's listening patterns. It then channels its knowledge into generating streams of music that the people themselves would like to listen to. Intuitive, accurate, and finally someone has done it. Check out the website to get one of the available plugins. Another interesting approach to digital music."
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Machine Learning and MP3s

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  • Random playing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by caluml (551744) <slashdotNO@SPAMspamgoeshere.calum.org> on Monday April 21, 2003 @08:03AM (#5772441) Homepage
    Wonder what it'll make of the fact I just load them all up and then select the random play option? :)
    • Re:Random playing (Score:5, Informative)

      by iksowrak (208577) on Monday April 21, 2003 @08:18AM (#5772484)
      I just found out about the plugin from /. this morning and haven't read up much on it yet, but it appears to factor in how long each song is played. So if you're like me and have Winamp on random play but skip over (or partway through) songs I don't feel like listening to, the plugin will still do its work.
    • Re:Random playing (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You should also check out Last.FM [last.fm].

      A personalised 128kbps stream, you can skip the songs you dont like, it learns and your personalised stream gets better :)
      • Re:Random playing (Score:2, Insightful)

        by mmol_6453 (231450)
        I may be paranoid, but I'd prefer not to have anyone, even my own computer, perform data mining on me.

        That's what this is, really. Personalized data mining. And all the prosecutor has to do is say, "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, observe. He listens to Emminem. Consider that fact when you consider the verdict."
        • "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, observe. He listens to Emminem. Consider that fact when you consider the verdict."


          "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, observe. He is black. Consider that fact when you consider the verdict."

    • Re:Random playing (Score:2, Interesting)

      by AssFace (118098)
      you are still listening to certain types of music though. so it should still work to help classify it. for instance, if you really hate country - the fact that you are randomly iterating over your own playlist doesn't mean that country will then be on the playlist.
      you are just randomly moving over songs that you like - even though you perhaps like some songs more than others - you are not likely to have many songs in there that you really dislike.
      so it sees what you like and then recommends from there.
  • Others... (Score:5, Informative)

    by moeffju (114331) on Monday April 21, 2003 @08:03AM (#5772442) Homepage
    For other programs that do this already, look for RoboDJ or AudioScrobbler. Lots of others exist.

    Yet none get the job done right.
    • Re:Others... (Score:3, Informative)

      by foxcub (465958)
      I geuss you could add GJay [sf.net] to the list...
  • by matt4077 (581118) on Monday April 21, 2003 @08:07AM (#5772457) Homepage
    from their download page:

    "Who wants Synapse?

    Listeners of the MP3. Students. Elevator operators. Makers of other media players. Programmers. Gangsters. Punks. Nerds. Really big nerds. Even ones from Yemen. Yeah, plenty of those. Competitors. Winners. People who exercise to Rocky music. Will Deringer. Audiophiles. Revolutionaries. Even Canadians. Quality people. Gastroenterologists. Bums. Lots of bums. Evil geniuses. Classics professors. Chinese people. Wine connoiseurs. Businessmen. Rabbis. Dew drinkers. Sherpas. Dictators. Professional servants. People with special powers. People who come through in the clutch. You. "

    I like them!
    • by KDan (90353) on Monday April 21, 2003 @08:28AM (#5772514) Homepage
      Hah, mate, you need to check out the "Why the Brain?" page:

      At some point in every man's life, he's bound to find himself in bed with a Chinese girl. It may happen suddenly, and you may not remember how it happened, but it will happen -- I guarantee that. When the time comes he needs to be ready. He needs his full arsenal at hand. And by this I mean music. Too many times has the playlist run short on soft acoustic guitar songs, quieting the room to an awkward silence and giving the Chinese girl a chance to reconsider what she's about to do. I've seen it happen, and it's not pretty.

      As a matter of fact, it's happened to me. And so we have spent the better part of the last six months of our lives making sure it doesn't happen to you. Because if it ever does, you won't be able to say "Why the hell doesn't my MP3 player just know what songs I want it to play?"

      We've got you covered. Use the Brain.

      Very "Dead Poet's society"-ish... "the ultimate purpose of all communication is... to seduce women!" :-)

      Daniel
      • by maxmg (555112) on Monday April 21, 2003 @09:08AM (#5772664)
        Do I understand this correctly:

        Geek is about to score, music runs out,
        girl reconsiders. Geek then starts programming
        project to make him COOLER???

        It's a sad sad world...
        • Geek then starts programming project to make him COOLER???

          However, if you're more a hardware guy like myself, and you're at a bar and that damn Internet Jukebox thing craps out (again...) and the moron who serviced it last forgot to lock it and you know the guts of the thing (it's a real PC in there - serial, USB, etc.) and you walk over and re-seat a couple cards and then reboot it and she gets all her music back...

          :-)

          Yes, I've had to do this a couple times now (and it really does work with some o
        • Geek is about to score, music runs out,
          girl reconsiders. Geek then starts programming
          project to make him COOLER???


          Hey if the Matrix existed before AI, then the above is in the correct order of events. It would happen.
  • by kisrael (134664) on Monday April 21, 2003 @08:07AM (#5772460) Homepage
    I know my listening habits aren't what I want them to be, per se...my playlist is either the songs I'be pre-assembled onto a mix of some kind, or else entire CDs, half the songs of which I don't care about that much, but I'm too lazy.

    I guess it could learn something from my mixes. But overall, this sounds like a much less useful technology than those previous "find out what other people who really like this song listen to" programs...firefly was one I think, way back in the day? Sort of like Amazon's "people who bought this CD also bought..." but on a per-song basis.
    • by chickens (626775) on Monday April 21, 2003 @08:14AM (#5772473)
      "find out what other people who really like this song listen to" programs..
      Methinks you'd like audioscrobbler [audioscrobbler.com], which is somewhat like firefly
    • But overall, this sounds like a much less useful technology than those previous "find out what other people who really like this song listen to" programs..

      But wouldn't the accuracy of something like that rely on other people not being lazy with their playlists? I know I am....so I'm not gonna be helping the stats either.
      • As you get more people, the laziness tends to cancel out. It's not that you've found one person who seems to like the stuff you do, but 20 or 30 people, and of those, X% also listened to these songs as well.

        It also helps to crank up the granularity. Albums and Artists might yield better hits than just tracks alone.
  • Let's not forget launchcast.com [launchcast.com]...
    • Smart Playlists? (Score:4, Informative)

      by ihatewinXP (638000) on Monday April 21, 2003 @08:36AM (#5772545)
      Another 'cutting edge playlist technology" would certainly be iTunes 'smart playlists.' You can match any number of criteria, including: genre, my rating, play count, artist contains *, and year to make sick and incredibly easy playlists. Oh and live updating, perfect for running a PlayCount: Zero and then having it add new unplayed tracks as you listen. At first I didnt notice it but after tinkering around I now wonder what I ever did before (but then again I get that feeling alot using apple products).

      Check it out: http://www.apple.com/itunes/smartplaylists.html
  • Has anybody seen Antitrust?
    • Re:Synapse? (Score:3, Funny)

      by EpsCylonB (307640)
      Has anybody seen Antitrust?

      yes, unfortunately.
      • Hey, what's wrong with a geek getting to do everything that geeks never get to do?

        You know like,

        1. have a hottie for a wife. Bang hottie nightly.

        2. With only a handful of friends, write a piece of software that will revolutionize communications. And of course assume that somebody else will gladly provide the satellites to make it all work.

        3. Smite Bill Gates in-person.

        HEY, IT COULD HAPPEN!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21, 2003 @08:10AM (#5772466)
    I remember whenever that joyous time of the month would roll around, my ex-girlfriend would start listening to a lot more typically "chick" songs, right before she actually started menstruating.

    I started working on a similar Winamp plugin to kind of give me a heads up, but then I figured I'd just see the used tampons in the trash...

  • But who says I want someone to know that I like to listen to songs from Barney? =\
  • People change (Score:5, Interesting)

    by uberkuba (554839) on Monday April 21, 2003 @08:17AM (#5772482)
    Analysis of past choices is nice... but ultimately it will fail to play what I REALLY want to hear because it doesn't predict moods.
    This type of system of past trait analysis has failed before, hasn't it???
    • Re:People change (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AndyS (655)
      You could always hook it into a Livejournal client for rabid LJ users - since mood tends to be entered you could have that as a global or something. Set your mood and it adapts accordingly.

      Should be an easy change - maybe have mood as a sort of dock icon, and allow it to be queried by all of these applications that would then switch profile.
    • Exactly.

      For example...I get in the mood to listen to all of a certain type of music, or a specific band...I dont get in the mood to listen to the songs i have listened to 30% of the time before. Although, this is a great idea, I think that it could become more advanced with groupings and selecting either an auto-grouping or a specific group. Maybe some simple folder manipulation or playlist manipulation could work to do this independantly of the program
      • <I>Exactly.

        For example...I get in the mood to listen to all of a certain type of music, or a specific band...I don't get in the mood to listen to the songs i have listened to 30% of the time before. Although, this is a great idea, I think that it could become more advanced with groupings and selecting either an auto-grouping or a specific group. Maybe some simple folder manipulation or playlist manipulation could work to do this independently of the program</I>

        Actually you have a moment of gen
  • Already Exists! (Score:4, Informative)

    by captainclever (568610) <rj AT audioscrobbler DOT com> on Monday April 21, 2003 @08:28AM (#5772513) Homepage
    There is already something like this out there, that uses loads of cool independant and smaller label stuff as well as some massive label stuff..

    Check out Last.FM [last.fm], they are very good. I've found a load of new artists from there. It is all stream based (128kbps) and they have a massive flash development section starting for open source goodness.

    There's also the (all open source) Audioscrobbler project.. see my .sig :)

    RJ
  • We have begun to release a series of plugins that will expand the Brain's functionality to other major media players.

    Analysis indicates that I am 99.9% likely to want to see ZhAng Ziyi in a plastic raincoat going down on Jennifer Lopez in ripped SCUBA gear (or the reverse, I'm not picky.) Now, if "the Brain" can FIND such porn for me instead of just making playlists, I might get some use out of it! Teach the damn thing to know when the women are fat and skanky so it won't download lousy porn, and I'll be sold.

    Seriously:
    There is of course the question of our definition of self, and how it might evolve as computers become more sophisticated. The distinction between the self and the environment, when our nervous systems are physical processes influenced by and dependent on "external" factors, is fundamentally artificial.

    When I use a hammer, a tool for doing physical work, it becomes like a part of me.

    When I use a computer, a tool for doing intellectual work, should I regard it any differently?

    The music I listen to has fundamental impact on my mood, on my posture, on my creativity and critical evaluation of ideas. If I am continuously communicating with my computer regarding my taste in music, and if my computer continuously responds by playing music, it becomes difficult to draw a meaningful distinction between my computer, which is a device, and my self, which does the thinking.

    OH GOOD LORD I'M RUNNING WINDOWS XP! GET IT OUT OF MY BRAIN!

    ka-blowie!

    NO CARRIER
    • It wouldn't be too tough to implement :-)

      A combination of NN based recognition [usc.edu] coupled with Eigen vectors [scheib.net] for a standardised dimension (for the pic) might just be able to do it ;-)

      Its not rocketscience you know, just pr0n :-p

      @( * O * )@
    • Analysis indicates that I am 99.9% likely to want to see ZhAng Ziyi in a plastic raincoat going down on Jennifer Lopez in ripped SCUBA gear (or the reverse, I'm not picky.) Now, if "the Brain" can FIND such porn for me instead of just making playlists, I might get some use out of it! Teach the damn thing to know when the women are fat and skanky so it won't download lousy porn, and I'll be sold.

      Let's call it "The other, only slightly smaller Brain".

      --
      O<
  • I seem to recall that webcasters weren't allowed to make the services "interactive" a while back. Users weren't permitted to select songs. Obviously this is different, but I wonder just how much a service can "react" to a user's playlist before it crosses the line to letting the user select each song?
  • by bcollier06 (667189) <benjamin.collier@nOSpAM.yale.edu> on Monday April 21, 2003 @08:35AM (#5772541)
    Wow, was I surprised to wake up and find this on the main page of slashdot ;) This program originally written by two classmates senior project at Phillips Exeter Academy last spring. I remember playing around with an early version of it as well as checking out the web page (it hasn't really changed). It appears as if one year and many cases of beer later, a lot of the kinks have been worked out. This program is great if you use it frequently enough for it to learn your preferences, or if you have a lot of downloaded music with malformed names that need correcting. I would much rather see it as a plugin because otherwise I miss out on using my favorite software stereo expander and other DSP plugins.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Last.FM [last.fm] is great, it starts streaming you music, you skip the songs you dont like, it learns what you like, and your personalised stream gets better and better!

    Check 'em out for some great new music from independants and small/medium label stuff :)
  • How can someone else except me decide what's good? My moods change, sometimes rapidly as well. And taste is acquired only after sampling... so will this s/w provide some new stuff ocassionally to check my preferences?

    I'd rather listen to random music on the radio.. I don't like the idea of someone out there, sitting and monitoring me.... like MS does.
    • How can someone else except me decide what's good? My moods change, sometimes rapidly as well.

      I was thinking the same thing. I can go from Slayer to Yanni to Pink Floyd to Iron Maiden to Brian Eno to David Bowie in the span of about 15 minutes. I'd almost LOVE to see what kinda play list it suggests for THAT kind of listening.
      • I can go from Slayer to Yanni to Pink Floyd to Iron Maiden to Brian Eno to David Bowie in the span of about 15 minutes.

        I have a WinAmp plugin installed that detects if my mood ever moves to "Yanni". If it does, my computer then kicks me square in the nuts.
    • I'm not sure about this but I'd be surprised if radio music selection was random. It would be stupid of them not to try to tie in the demographics of a song played just before a commercial and the comercial itself.

      Also why play a Burger King commercial just before a song that vaguely reminds people of the McDonald's theme unless McDonald's is kicking in a little money.

      If they are not doing this now they probably will be after reading this post!
  • and finally someone has done it

    I guess the softwave I've been using for the past few years came through a time portal!! Music Match has had this feature for a long time.
  • Listeng tastes (Score:4, Interesting)

    by eyeball (17206) on Monday April 21, 2003 @08:40AM (#5772566) Journal
    Personally my listening tastes are based on much more than what type, genre, or style of music. Most songs that make it onto my playlists are because a close friend recommends it, and that song will always (for better or worse) bring out memories of that person.

    *That* would be imposibile to substitute with a learning machine.

    I also think for a lot of people, they like a song because it's already familiar (they've subconsiously heard it in a store or a few dozen TV ads), and suddenly hit that point where they like that song and actively persue it. Unless the machine learning system were somehow able to track everything the person heard, It couldn't substite this either.
    • Re:Listeng tastes (Score:2, Informative)

      by bornholtz (94540)

      Most songs that make it onto my playlists are because a close friend recommends it

      That's one of the reasons that I use AudioScrobbler [audioscrobbler.com].
      My brother lives about 500 miles away from me and we can see what each other is listening to. I'm pretty comfortable listening to just about anything in his playlist.
      He's a freshman in college and I'm an old fart. This allows me to learn about a lot of new music.

    • Seems to me that the point of the project isn't to rate your songs, but to find new music you are likely to enjoy.

      Actually rating the stuff after you've heard it is up to you.
  • Sounds cool, but ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Catiline (186878) <akrumbach@gmail.com> on Monday April 21, 2003 @08:42AM (#5772573) Homepage Journal
    Does their logic system fail (or degrade) gracefully?

    My tastes in music are varied wildly, and I often will select a small set of my MP3s based on mood; will this system be able to determine that when I code I like to listen to classical but when playing games, alternative music is the thing? Or will it just play it all at once, unaware of the correlative patterns that would link the timing of music selection -- just mashing everything together into one massive playlist? (Given that nothing, not even time of day, can help determine what I want to hear, I have some serious doubts their system can handle my preferences as well as I do.)

    Truly "smart" programs often aren't really; the defining line I draw is how well they handle pathological cases. For example, have your dictation software transcribe the following sentence: "The village yeoman, Hugh, hewed two yews to use in the upcoming archery contest". I'm not guaranteeing it will choke, but it sure won't be pleased with you, despite the grammatical perfection of the sentence. However, any human hearing that will immediately make sense of it. Unsurprisingly, it is the simple algorythms (like naieve Bayesian statistics for spam filtering) that seem to best manage the complexity of real life while still failing gracefully.
    • The authors claim that the software will notice trends in playing. Say you typically play rock songs all together and classical all together. If you load up a rock song and then tell the software to pick for you from there, then it will stick to rock songs.

      Sounds nice to me. I've been playing with it today and it looks like it's already starting to get me. Kinda cool.
  • by Glyndwr (217857) on Monday April 21, 2003 @08:47AM (#5772587) Homepage Journal

    This intelligent mp3 playback stuff seems like a really good idea to me; learning algorithms can be astonishingly effective, and even if it only when I hit "next track" halfway through a song it would help. However, I'm still looking for an mp3 player I like. I really like iTunes, but it's not perfect because I only have OSX on my laptop (Linux my desktops, where I want mp3 playback most).

    Stuff I like about iTunes:

    • The integrated management software, and how if I fancy listening to a particular artist/album, I just type their name in a little box to get realtime filtering
    • It doesn't look like ass
    • Neato en-mass ID3 tag editing options
    • Fantastic visualistaions
    • Neat metadata (last played, ratings, etc)
    All I really want is a Linux player to do all this too. XMMS is small and neat but the playlist feels like a clumsy management interface after iTunes. GQMpeg seems fiddly, and xtunes is ugly. Can anyone suggest alternatives?

    Other features I want my mp3 player to have, but which I've never seen done:

    • I listen to music on shuffle a lot. What I would like to do is browse through my full mp3 list and add the next half-dozen or so tracks to the playlist, taking it out of shuffle... but only until those half-dozen tracks are played. After than I want it to go back to shuffle.
    • Intelligent gapless playback -- if the mp3 ends with no silence (think live albums), I want it to crossfade to the next track with a very short gap; otherwise, I want no crossfade. Ditto for when the next track begins with no silence. Seems like this wouldn't be too hard to code up, I may look into making a XMMS plugin one day to see if I can.
    • rsync-based synchronisation between iTunes (on my iBook) and my household fileserver. Involves knowledge of iTunes' XML files.
    • The moon, on a stick.
    • Oh man, that's really badly written. And I previewed it several times, too.

      For a start, I do understand that Brain is supposed to be snagging stuff from the net according to my tastes; my central but utterly obscured point is that I'd rather get a player that can handly my own mp3s to my total satisfaction before getting fancy with one that can seek out new mp3s for me. Let's walk before we try to run.

      However, I think this sort of learning algorithm can be sensibly applied to my personal collection; for e
    • You might like Rhythmbox [rhythmbox.org] a bit better than GQmpeg or xmms but it depends how you weight your different needs. It doesn't look like ass and it has neat metadata but 1. no viz, 2. no ID3 editing, and 3, no moon on a stick.

      This is assuming a gtk2 app is acceptable, you can get it running-without-crashing for enough time to build up useful playlists and use it enough to make the metadata actually have an effect.

      If you can't, there was a fork/branch [verbum.org] a while back that add's streaming management and is relativ

      • GTK2 I can live with (writing this in Galeon2, actually), and lack of vis too. When I want vis I can always slave the iBook as a pure mp3 machine and run fullscreen viz, which is ultimately pretty wasteful but impresses visitors no end. ID3 editing is less of a problem now iTunes has straightened out my metadata; everything I've ripped over the last three years has correct tags (and most of my collection is stuff I've ripped myself), so it's less of an issue now than it used to be.

        Well, having apt-getted i
    • The moon, on a stick.

      You haven't seen Synergy [wincent.org] yet, have you?

    • Unless you have a really small music collection or or willing to spend hours and hours makes hundreds of playlists there just aren't any decent players for linux yet. The only one in recent memory that has half a chance or turning into something decent like someone else pointed out it Rythmbox(although dev has stalled??), maybe the fork will do better.

      For now I use Zinf since its the only one which seems to makes an effort to let you organzie your music library in an easy manner. See a screenshot here http
    • I'm working on one.

      Actually its been working for me for over a year now, but it doesn't have a GUI so it doesn't yet fit your description of not looking like ass.

      Its Java (so it should work perfectly well on Linux) and it does have request mode (so that you can request a song, or ten, or a whole playlist) and when it runs out of requests it picks the next song based on the current songs meta-data... which right now you still have to enter yourself.

      But its been playing music at my house, 24 hours a day, 7
    • Intelligent gapless playback -- if the mp3 ends with no silence (think live albums), I want it to crossfade to the next track with a very short gap; otherwise, I want no crossfade.

      This really annoyed me, too, until someone told me that iTunes can do it already. Turn crossfading on, set the time to 0, and hey presto! It occasionally seems to get confused and crossfade over a second or two, but most of the time it's seamless. (Best to turn off the automatic level setting, Sound Check, as that works on a tra

  • by JUSTONEMORELATTE (584508) on Monday April 21, 2003 @08:48AM (#5772595) Homepage
    Here's a short version of what I want to hear: "Something that challenges my tastes."
    Mostly, I listen to Radio 1190, [radio1190.org] the CU Boulder station. I'd say that I enjoy about 1 song in 4. I keep listening because I find out about local bands that I'd never hear, I hear indie bands (not just bands running on the "indie" branch of a major label) and I get DJs who love what they do. (here's where I give mad props to Milkman Dan)

    What's your spiffy MP3-scanning-neural-network-plugin going to do with me, eh?

    --
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21, 2003 @08:49AM (#5772603)
    Seems like Adam D'Angelo is also the coder of buddyzoo [buddyzoo.com]. Anyone know if he has a homepage?
    • Dunno, but I've heard anecdotally (and the anecdotes were supported by a quick Google search) that he's on Caltech's ACM programming team, so he's definitely one smart cookie.

      Also, he has a Slashdot account: SkyIce [slashdot.org]
    • It looks like they're both college freshmen now. But last year, Adam D'Angelo went to Korea for the IOI contest. Apparently, the other one is a smart guy too. A friend at Exeter said Mark Zuckerberg was a bigshot in math there and had some interesting coding projects of his own. Go figure.
  • by Neuronerd (594981) <konrad@@@koerding...de> on Monday April 21, 2003 @09:08AM (#5772666) Homepage
    I am not sure about this but there seems to be a certain marketing push behind the project. The description of whos supposed to download it is hilarious. But all the machine learning stuff is hidden behind buzzwords. Why do they not put up a description of the algorithm or at least about its rational. I am involved in machine learning myself and most of my colleagues are extremely careful when using words like "the brain". And there is a usually a strong anticorrelation between the quality of work and the use of such buzzwords.
    • I have no clue what their software does "behind the scenes" - but I personally would use a Markov Matrix/Chain and Bayesian classification.

      I haven't used their system - but if it generally sucks if not many people have used it, and then gets much "smarter" over time and as more users (and usage) increases - then I would suspect that is what they are using as well.

      Essentially you have song A, and then that points to a list of songs (after listening to song A, people then tended to listen to song Z, Y, and


  • I dont see a use for this software.
  • Now I get it, it's a playlist pattern analyzer. What with all the hype on the page that doesn't explain what it does, at first I thought this was a miraculously advanced AI program that would pick out the common themes in all the music I like best, then synthesize a new stream of music like nothing I've ever heard, a brand new composition tailored exactly to my personal taste, that to me would be the most beautiful music in the world possible. But it just plays existing songs. Oh well, back to fantasizin
  • You know... (Score:3, Funny)

    by MoeMoe (659154) on Monday April 21, 2003 @09:39AM (#5772796)
    You know you're too damn lazy when your computer has to decide what music you like and when to play it for you.
  • Fantastic! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    So now the RIAA can use this technology to say what you *would* have stolen, and add another fine with a lot of 0s =)
  • by Masem (1171) on Monday April 21, 2003 @10:27AM (#5773038)
    ...for actually generating 'finite machine'-like playlists?

    That is, say I have all my music appropriate tagged for artist, year, and music type (say through MusicBrainz or something similar). Maybe each track has it's own classification for those CDs that have 'various artists' or that the artist goes into a number of different styles, or whatever. You also have tracks from some CDs that are meant to be played without a break between them ("Dark Side of the Moon" for example has a couple of tracks like this).

    Now, what I'd LIKE to do is to have my mp3 player look at the current song, then using a combination of random factors and some expert knowledge to select the next song to play as to have a nice subtle shift in music tone. Right now, the random feature in most music players could easily put up a grunge track right after a classic track, then into some 60s rock. This is not necessarily wrong, but it's a bit drastic.

    I've considered a way to build up a finite state machine of the various musical types as typically defined by the MP3 ID tags, such that each type is a state, and you can only effectively move to very related types in the FSM. (A random factor with possibly some weighting would be used to determine which state to go to: if you are currently at "80s Synthpop", you have a good chance to go to "70s Pop" or "90s Pop" and a slight chance to move to "Electronica", for example). Such a FSM would need a lot of community suggestions, and maybe the end result would require some net-lookup table as to get the current FSM status.

    So the program as I see it would look at this FSM, the artist, and other details (again, if there's a song that should follow it, it gets higher weighing), the program generates a weighted list of tracks to go to next, hits the RNG, and pulls out the next track. At which point it repeats itself. Various aspects, such as the weighting on the genre, artist, or play order, could be included. Additionally, the FSM should allow for a "completely unrelated" jump to a different genre that's not necessarily related to the current one, but with some chance as set by the user. Thus, with this program in play, if you have a good select of CD tracks, you can have the playlist progress slowly through genres, thus not having massive mood changes during the playlist, unless you have set it up as such.

    I know there are programs that can generated weighted playlists from your input , such as LongPlayer, but this only looks at your ratings, and doesn't try to do anything tricky on the list otherwise.

    Mind you, the way current MP3 players work, this would most likely be done by generating a playlist from your current song selection, which you then feed to winamp or whatever. A plugin that does this dynamically would be best, but I don't think a lot of these mp3 players have that type of ability builtin, and instead, you have programs like LongPlayer that call out to WinAmp to only play the song, LPlayer doing the playlist selection.

    Does anyone know if such projects exist yet, or is this even something the community would be interested in?

  • Hmmmmmm. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SatanicPuppy (611928) <Satanicpuppy AT gmail DOT com> on Monday April 21, 2003 @10:37AM (#5773091) Journal
    Seems interesting, but there are problems which I don't see being overcome.

    Say you spend most of your time playing Unreal Tournament 2003 with winamp in the background, and so this software learns that you like ripping violent music about 90% of the time.

    Then you bring home the aforementioned Chinese girl and you put on some soft guitar music and just and things are becoming interesting, the song ends, and the idiot "Brain" decides a little Rob Zombie is just what you need, based off past experience.

    Half the time I don't know myself what I want to listen to...It's too closely linked to my mood to be modeled in a purely statistical manner unless my mood levels out because of some wierdness (i.e. I smoke a lot of pot so I listen to a lot of Grateful Dead, or my significant other dumps me and I listen to really depressing breakup music for a month.) Otherwise, I'm going to be oscillating all day between different types of music, so something which may please me in the morning may get skipped bigtime by the afternoon.

    But even THAT isn't reliable; I could be mellow, listening to mellow stuff on Friday morning, then WHAM! Major programming meltdown at a big client! I have to mobilize my tired brain cells with brain crushing rock/metal! A reversal of my otherwise "normal" progression from violent to mellow during the course of the day, which itself is often severly affected by how much I have to deal with my boss.

    I don't see how such a thing could be truly accurate unless it has the facility to somehow read my mood. I can think of several ways to do this, but I doubt blush reflex scanners, heart rate/ekg monitors, voice stress monitors, or neural feedback chips are included with the software.

    I'm not sure I'd want it to be accurate anyway. Seems like it would be too easy to get lulled into a pattern, with no new input. Kind of stale. Unless it can read a new song and figure out, statistically whether or not I would like it, which sounds more like a Turing test than anything else. Maybe worse; my S.O. can't figure out what the hell I like, so if a computer COULD, well, I'd probably finally be able to write off the opposite sex.

    I'm not holding my breath.
    • It would be kind of strange to log in as one user to play mellow stuff to calm down and an other user to get pumped up. I didn't see any Linux downloads on the site either, wonder why if it was developed on Linux initialy
  • Client/Server mode? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Freqdog (655406)
    I typiclly stream my mp3 to multiple computers in the house.. a client server version of this software would be very usefull.. as to have a central stat list to recall.. of couse a linux version of the server side would be a must
  • ummm.. (Score:2, Funny)

    by No. 24601 (657888)
    The Brain knows what you want and how you want it. It knows when you want it and it's going to give it to you.

    I think i'll pass on this ;)

  • This sounds like a tool for control freaks to find patterns and reinforce those patterns in themselves over and over. Patterns breed stagnation. This is the whole problem with commercial radio.

    I say embrace randomness. That's why I prefer to listen to streams instead of local mp3s anyway. In fact I would like to see a tool which mixed hundreds of streams into a single stream. When a song ended on one stream, it would find another stream where a song was just beginning and switch to it.

    Besides, con [cam.ac.uk]

  • I made the program with Adam D'Angelo, which you can verify on the team page [synapseai.com].

    I want to offer the following information about the project. The majority of development effort went into building the Brain. The Synapse player is just something we threw together to get the most from the Brain's functionality. We will probably never port Synapse to other systems since more than enough players already exist. Synapse does work under Wine though. We do have plans to bring the Brain to other systems, and we've

    • Synapse would be fine if it would actually *play* something when you loaded a playlist into it and press play, instead of sitting there, without producing a single sound. Like many others around here, I appreciate your project; it has led me to search for something with similar functionality that actually works, and with my existing media player (wa3), too.

      But anyway, thanks for trying.
  • by jerkychew (80913) on Monday April 21, 2003 @03:32PM (#5775241) Homepage
    I downloaded and installed Synapse. Damn thing scanned all my local and network shares for files, giving me no option to manually specify. Since I have lots of drives, this took a good ten minutes.

    What's worse, the app stayed on top of all my other apps, smack in the middle of my primary monitor, with no way to move it. So, I had to work on my secondary while it chugged away.

    Ok, fine. Told it where the MP3s were, and it imported all the song info. I believe I was allowed to move this window, although I can't totally remember.

    Fired it up. Black on dark blue background. Um, tough to read to say the least. Switched to the 'playlist' screen and tried dragging n dropping an m3u playlist into the screen, a la winamp. No dice, wouldn't load.

    Ok, can't find any place to manually add files without exploring the little music database it built. Open the database tree and, holy crap, what a piece of shit. I wanted to listen to Linkin Park's Meteora CD, so I scroll waay down to linkin park, and expand the tree. Ugh. Flat file listings, by song name. Crap. Can't find Meteora.

    Now, I know that this is kind of a different MP3 player, and I had every intention of RTFMing before really using it, but come on. It should at least be intuitive enough for me to be able to load some songs without having to read the instructions.

    I closed Synamps and fired Winamp 3 up. Maybe I'll go back and try it out again, but I'm not as interested as I was when I started.
  • I just downloaded the WinAmp Plugin, and played with it for quite a while, meticulously feeding in long playlists. It does NOT try to find you new music based on what you like. It attempts to give you semi-random playlists, based on the playlists you have used in the past. The elements of that playlist are culled from your mp3 collection, and, more specifically, from the parts of your mp3 collection that you have played since starting up Brain. Also, if you want to give it data faster, note that the way i
  • Why in Gods Name do they need to open up TCP port 8541 to give me control over my own songlists when winamp is sitting there staring me in the face?

    The uninstall did NOT work. I had to find the .dll in my plugins directory and manually delete it. Only "Black Jesus" knows where else this thing installed itself in my system.

    I felt SO stupid for spending time on this. "Brain" is either some very bad engineering or it's a latent trojan.
  • From the website:

    Mark's mouse, alone, has moved enough to go around the world...twice.


    Click on P, click on R, click on I, click on N, click on T, click on F, shift-click on 9...

    Am I the only one thinking that the mouse to a programmer is the same as a tricycle to a fish?

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