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Automatic Classification of Musical Pieces into Global Cultural Areas

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Music Information Retrieval (MIR) has a large variety of applications. One aspect that has not gathered a lot of attention yet is the application to non-western music ("world music"). In a task comparable to genre classification, this work's goal is the classification of musical pieces into their corresponding cultural regions of origin. As a basis for such a classification, a three-tier taxonomy based on musical and geographic properties is created. A database consisting of approximately 4400 musical pieces representing the taxonomical classes is assembled and annotated. Based on rhythmic, tonal, and timbre-related audio features, different classification experiments are performed. We achieved an accuracy of approx. 70% for the classification of musical pieces into nine large world regions. Twelve new features that are especially suited for non-western music are implemented. They improve the classification result slightly. For the purpose of comparison, we carried out a listening test with musical laymen with an average accuracy of 52%.

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