I recently stumbled upon the  Syllabus for Don Byrd's course called: Organizing and Searching of Musical Information.  Included in the syllabus is this gem:

 The Fundamental Theorem of Music Informatics (maybe)

Music is created by humans for other humans, and humans can bring a tremendous amount of contextual knowledge to bear on anything they do; in fact, they can't avoid it, and they're rarely conscious of it. But (as of early 2008) computers can never bring much contextual knowledge to bear, often none at all, and never without being specifically programmed to do so. Therefore doing almost anything with music by computers is very difficult; many problems are essentially intractable. For the forseeable future, the only way to make significant progress is by doing as well as possible with very little context, thereby sidestepping the intractable problems. -- Don Byrd, 7 Jan. 2008

Don is saying that it is a long time before computers can understand music  so we better do the best we can with our bag of frames.


Thanks for mention my "Fundamental Theorem", Paul; I told my class we're famous now. I hope everyone realizes that calling it a "theorem" is tongue in cheek, but otherwise, I'm quite serious. I like your paraphrase, too, though of course the context problems are even worse if you use a bag of anything (frames, features, notes...) and ignore the order in which they occur. (And now I really should lower my profile; after all, this is YOUR blog, not mine :-) .)

Posted by Don Byrd on February 08, 2008 at 04:04 PM EST #

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