Active Listening was the first project of SONY CSL in 1998.

Active Listening refers to the idea that listeners can be given some degree of control perceptions on a piece of music, by opposition to traditional listening, in which the musical media is played passively by some neutral device. The objective is both to increase the musical comfort of listeners, and, when possible, to provide listeners with smoother paths to new music (music they do not know, or do not like). Following this principle we created listening environments in which the variations produced by the listener always preserve the original semantics of the music, at least when this semantics can be defined precisely. This is particularly spectacular in the MusicSpace project.

Other projects were developped in this realm, as illustrated here.
A more personal, literary project dealing with active listening is Histoire de ma musique.




MusicSpace, an interface for controlling spatialization parameters in a meaningful way, was the first "Active Listening" project developped at Sony CSL. Go to MusicSpace page.


The Music Browser is the first music browser able to handle large music catalogues, and offer users many novel content-based access methods in an integrated environment. It integrates in a single environment editorial information, acoustic descriptors, acoustic similarity and cultural similarity. Its plugin architecture allows third party to develop proprietary acoustic or cultural extractors, and integrate them in the MusicBrowser.

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PathBuilder is a particular application of constraint-based playlist generation where playlists are built from a starting title and an ending title chosen by the user from a catalogue. The hypothesis being tested is that if you like two titles (A and B), and if there is a continuous path between A and B, then you should probably find interesting titles in this path. The solver is able to compute a path (in fact all possible paths) between two arbitrary titles so that each title is as similar as possible to the next one. Similarity is defined by a function of the various metadata associated to each title (including as genre, voice type, tempo, instrument type, etc.). The application allows to create "morphing" between two arbitrary titles, chosen from a database, play and display the compilation, and allows also the user to interactively change it (e.g. by removing a title, and running the system again).

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PersonalRadio is an automatic, customized radio station. It addresses explorativeness explicitly. Figure 2 shows an interface of PersonalRadio, with a slider ranging between two extreme values (conservative to exploratory). Depending on the position of the slider, the music selection proposed is conservative, exploratory, or anywhere on the the continuum between the two extremes.

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The Cuidado project (Jan 2001 - Dec. 2003) aimed at developping the first content-based music browser as well as the required modules for extracting automatically descriptors from the acoustic signal, and from web pages.

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Videos and Images

Home >> Active Listening

Music Browser Experiments (video)

The MusicBrowser in action during the festival "Villette Numérique" held in 2004 at the Cité des Sciences, Paris

Gesture-based Music Browsing (video)

A gesture-based interface for music browsing: demo with an adult.

Gesture-based Music Browsing (video)

An intuitive gesture-based interface for music browsing: demo with a child (1).

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Gesture-based Music Browsing (video)

An intuitive gesture-based interface for music browsing: demo with a child (2).

Gesture-based Music Browsing (video)

An intuitive gesture-based interface for music browsing: demo with a child (3).

PathBuilder (image)

The PathBuilder allows the user to automatically create "interesting" paths in personal playlists.

PersonalRadio (image)

Exploratory slider is moved on the right, music programs contain titles farther away from the request. Here, the genre-based request is “Jazz guitar.” Titles in red are more distant from this request than titles in blue.