- The 6th International Conference on Music Information Retrieval (ISMIR 2005)
ISMIR 2005, the Sixth International Conference on Music Information Retrieval, took place at Queen Mary, University of London, and Goldsmiths College, University of London, from 11–15 September 2005. The paper sessions and poster sessions took place at Queen Mary, while introductory tutorials took place at Goldsmiths on Sunday. The event was sponsored this year by Microsoft Research, Sun Microsystems, the British Library, Hewlett-Packard, Philips Research, the British Computer Society, the Digital Music Research Network, and the Multimedia Knowledge Management Network. Apple Computer provided an Internet Cafe consisting of six iMacs set up in the lobby of the Centre for Digital Music building where the paper and poster sessions took place.
Although the conference did not have an official theme, several topics of prominence did emerge: MIREX, the Music Information Retrieval Evaluation eXchange; annotation of ground truth for training data; the maturing of the ISMIR research community; the role of ISMIR in both the wider Computer Music and Information Retrieval communities; and the utility of Music Information Retrieval (MIR) research to musicologists and information analysts. This was in addition to the spectrum of excellent technical papers and posters. One of the main topics of conversation outside of the sessions was the interpretation and classification of genre.
Compared to other conferences I have attended, ISMIR is still relatively new, and remains small. Rather than being a detriment, this serves many advantages. There were only two parallel sessions, so it was possible to attend almost every paper in the conference. The subject area of the conference continues to be tight and specific, while being neither stifling nor predictable. One hundred thirty-eight submissions were received, a record for ISMIR, and the reviewers maintained a high standard of quality in the accepted papers. Of the 103 oral presentation submissions, 56 were accepted for oral presentation and given 8 pages in the proceedings, and 29 were accepted for poster presentation with 6 pages in the proceedings. Of the 35 poster and demonstration submissions, 28 were accepted and given 4 pages in the proceedings. In addition, there were three excellent invited speakers: Nicholas Cook, Steven Robertson, and Thomas Dolby.
Nicholas Cook, a Research Professor of Music from Royal Holloway, University of London, began the conference with an invited talk entitled "Towards the Complete Musicologist?" in which he detailed some of the typical work musicologists do, and how music information retrieval techniques may be employed to benefit musicology. Mr. Cook noted that "What will be critical from the jobbing musicologist's point of view is the trickling down of research—the translation of cutting edge research into practical usable everyday tools." He noted that professional musicologists are often reluctant to adopt new techniques and technologies, and that even if a musicologists does use, for example, the Humdrum Toolkit, it is unlikely that they will use it frequently enough to become proficient with the interface. This is an issue for many technical fields, especially those building tools for non-technicians. The people who build the tools are, by necessity, familiar with what goes on "under the bonnet," as Mr. Cook puts it, and therefore often produce an interface that, while usable to the technician, is not as usable for the non-technical user. Many of the issues brought up by Mr. Cook's talk were examined in greater detail over coffee and after hours offsite. The MIR community must look [End Page 90] beyond the technology toward utility and usability.
Stephen Robertson is a Professor of Information Systems at the Department of Information Science at City University, London. Mr. Robertson also works at Microsoft Research in Cambridge. As a long-standing expert in text information retrieval (TIR), Mr. Robertson was able to provide a grounding and context for MIR. The TIR community is significantly more mature than the MIR community, by a matter of decades, and still there is much work to be done in resolving...