Beethoven’s Google Doodle

To celebrate Ludwig van Beethoven’s 245th Year, Google created an interactive doodle to help Beethoven arranging his masterpieces during his unfortunate journey to the symphony hall. Produced by Gregory Capuano and designed by Leon Hong, the Google engineers Jordan Thompson, Jonathan Shneier, Kris Hom and Charlie Gordon programmed a new masterpiece of animation. The Piano recordings have been done by Tim Shneier. Nate Swinehart was responsible for animatics and additional art.

The following figures show some key scenes from the interactive animation.


Musical Scores Library and Computer-Aided Musicology

Last update : August 27, 2013

The best known musical scores library is IMSLP (International Music Score Library Project), also called the Petrucci Music Library, after publisher Ottaviano Petrucci. IMSPL is a project for the creation of a virtual library of public domain music scores, based on the wiki principle. It was launched on February 2006 by Edward W. Guo (pseudonym Feldmahler), a graduate of the New England Conservatory and Harvard Law School.

Links to other musical scores library are provided in the following list :

Vladimir Viro & Michael Cuthbert

Vladimir Viro & Michael Scott Cuthbert at the 1st Classical Music Hack Day, Vienna 2013 – Photo by Thomas Bonte

Vladimir Viro, a computer scientist at the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, Germany, is founder and lead developer of Peachnote, a classical music search tool. Vladimir Viro published a research paper on Peachnote at the 12th International Society for Music Information Retrieval (ISMIR) conference in 2011. The service enables a user to freely search IMSLP, the US Library of Congress, and other archives for classical music. Peachnote uses a music N-gram Viewer, that’s analogous to Google’s N-gram Viewer.

Werner Schweer, Hervé Bitteur, Nicolas Froment, Thomas Bonte

Werner Schweer, Hervé Bitteur, Nicolas Froment, Thomas Bonte at the 1st Classical Music Hack Day, Vienna 2013

Michael Scott Cuthbert, Associate Professor of Music at MIT and creator of music21, a flexible toolkit for computer-aided musicology, is impressed by the impact of Peachnote on musicology.

Vladimir Viro and Michael Scott Cuthbert presented their projects at the 1st Classical Music Hack Day which took place at the mdw-University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, February 1st – 3rd, 2013. Werner Schweer, Nicolas Froment and Thomas Bonte presented at the same days their free open-source musical notation program MuseScore.

Musical Scores Library

MuseScore open-source program

An alpha version of an embeddable score viewer is provided by Peachnote :

Peachnote Score Viewer

Peachnote Score Viewer

Links to additional informations about Peachnote, music21 and MuseScore are listed hereafter :

N-gram databases & N-gram viewers

Last update : May 13, 2013

An N-gram is a contiguous sequence of n items from a given sequence, collected from a text or speech corpus. An N-gram could be any combination of letters, phonemes, syllables, words or base pairs, according to the application.

An N-gram of size 1 is referred to as a unigram, size 2 is a bigram, size 3 is a trigram. Larger sizes are referred to by the value of N (four-gram, five-gram, …). N-gram models are widely used in statistical natural language processing. In speech recognition, phonemes and sequences of phonemes are modeled using a N-gram distribution.

“All Our N-gram are Belong to You” was the title of a post published in August 2006 by Alex Franz and Thorsten Brants in the Google Research Blog. Google believed that the entire research community should benefit from access to their massive amounts of data collected by scanning books and by analysing the web. The data was distributed by the Linguistics Data Consortium (LDC) of the University of Pennsylvania. Four years later (December 2010), Google unveiled an online tool for analyzing the history of the data digitized as part of the Google Books project (N-Gram Viewer). The appeal of the N-gram Viewer was not only obvious to scholars (professional linguists, historians, and bibliophiles) in the digital humanities, linguistics, and lexicography, but also casual users got pleasure out of generating graphs showing how key words and phrases changed over the past few centuries.

Google Books N-gram Viewer, an addictive tool

Google Books N-gram Viewer, an addictive tool

The version 2 of the N-Gram Viewer was presented in October 2012 by engineering manager Jon Orwant. A detailed description how to use the N-Gram Viewer is available at the Google Books website. The maximum string that can be analyzed is five words long (Five gram). Mathematical operators allow you to add, subtract, multiply, and divide the counts of N-grams. Part-of-speech tags are available for advanced use, for example to distinguish between verbs or nouns of the same word. To make trends more apparent, data can be viewed as a moving average (0 = raw data without smoothing, 3 = default, 50 = maximum). The results are normalized by the number of books published in each year. The data can also be downloaded for further exploration.

N-Gram data is also provided by other institutions. Some sources are indicated hereafter :

Links to further informations about N-grams are provided in the following list :

Online music :, Deezer and Spotify

A renowned online music service is iTunes, based on SoundJam MP and launched by Apple in 2001. Jeff Robbin and Bill Kincaid developed SoundJam MP in 1998 with assistance from Dave Heller. They chose Casady & Greene to publish SoundJam MP. Jeff Robbin is now the vice president of consumer applications at Apple Inc and he remains the lead software designer for iTunes.

Other online music services are less known, among them, Deezer and Spotify. is a music website, founded in the United Kingdom in 2002, acquired by CBS Interactive in May 2007. Using a music recommender system called Audioscrobbler, builds a detailed profile of each user’s musical taste by recording details of the songs the user listens to. Audioscrobbler began as a computer science project of Richard Jones. was founded in 2002 by Felix Miller, Martin Stiksel, Michael Breidenbruecker and Thomas Willomitzer as an internet radio station and music community site. won the Europrix 2002 and was nominated for the Prix Ars Electronica in 2003. and Audioscrobbler were merged in 2005 and are still active today. A new desktop player was released on January 15, 2013.

Deezer is a French web-based music streaming service. It allows users to listen to music on various devices. It currently has more than 20 million licensed tracks and over 30,000 radio channels. The first version of Deezer, called Blogmusik, has been developed by Daniel Marhely in Paris in 2006. The company became succesful in 2010 when they entered a partnership with Orange. Deezer has three account types : discovery (free), premium and premium-plus. Deezer was launched in Luxembourg in March 2012 in partnership with Tango.

Spotify is a commercial music streaming service providing DRM-protected content from a range of major and independent record labels, including Sony, EMI, Warner Music Group and Universal. The service was launched in October 2008 by Swedish startup Spotify AB. The company was founded by Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon. Since November 2012 the service is also available in Luxembourg.

The system is currently accessible using Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Windows Phone, S60 (Symbian), Sonos, and other devices. Music can be browsed by artist, album, record label, genre, playlist, radio channels, as well as by direct searches. About 20 million songs are available since December 2012. Some artists are missing because of licensing restrictions imposed by the record labels or by the artists. The Beatles, for example, are not available because of a digital distribution agreement that is exclusive to iTunes.

Three subscriptions, with trials, are available : open, unlimited, premium. A free service is only available upon invitation. Spotify operates under a so-called ‘Freemium’ model, which is offering simple and basic services free for the user to try and more advanced or additional features at a premium price based ont the Open Music Model (OMM). The incorporation of DRM diverges however from the OMM.

In 2011 Spotify was announced as a technology pioneer by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Social music-making applications

Smule Products

A social music network, connecting users across the globe through music and enabling people to uniquely express themselves, has been created by Smule, a company founded in 2008 by Jeff Smith and Ge Wang.

The products of Smule for Apple iOS devices are :

In December 1, 2011, Smule acquired Khush, an intelligent music app developer and creator of popular apps, Songify and LaDiDa™.

On October 3, 2012, during an Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Seminar at the Standford’s Entrepreneurship Corner, co-founders Ge Wang and Jeff Smith, shared how their passion for music and technology discovered its full voice in the founding of Smule, whose applications seek to liberate the musician in everyone. Wang emphasized how technology should enable human connection and reaction, and Smith shared insights on the mobile space and the importance of product focus.

See the video of this lecture, a Startup in Harmony.