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I'm on a train!

Not the logical train that I was booked on, thanks to the excitement caused by high winds and speed restrictions. But ticket restrictions having been lifted, it seemed prudent to get on to the first arriving train out of Lancaster, coincidentally delayed by just the right amount of time for it to leave at my train's scheduled time, rather than waiting for the West Coast Main Line to close due to the “extremely severe” weather.

I did in the end finish my talk (previously previously), and delivered it if not to rapturous applause, then at least applause. I think I pitched it about right, in that even the music informaticians will have most likely seen something new in there, but it was a talk with sufficient illustrations (less charitably, short on detail) that the non-technologists in the audience will have absorbed a certain amount of the flavour of possibility.

Slides are here for posterity; they'll also go up on the transforming musicology website, as will a video of my burblings to accompany the visuals. In case it's not clear from the slides: the survey is inevitably partial (in both senses); I was perhaps most disappointed in not being able to give a vast list of resources for subsequent investigation, so if any reader feels slighted by the lack of publicity given to their (available) music informatics tool, let me know. It was slightly disconcerting to be viewed as an authority in this context; what with my various startup and child-rearing activities, it's been a while since I've been fully engaged in the the music informatics world. I suppose that is something that having a part-share in a £200,000 funding budget brings – I must be an expert, I'm tangentially involved in the distribution of money!

Meanwhile, having agonized over the talk so comprehensively (I think the version I ended up giving was my third attempt at a coherent story, the others having foundered on the rocks of unavailability or sunk into the whirlpool of incomprehensibility) I had forgotten that I was also chairing a discussion session on tools for audio analysis. Fortunately, there were some interesting and knowledgable parties in the room, and we had a lively discussion, covering source separation, features for emotion classification (we discussed the problem of interpretability, and the Netflix prize), and the failure of music informatics tools to deal with singing in almost all contexts.

I hope that there is some work done on improving the situation for singing in general, and for non-autotuned music in general – I'm not sure that Transforming Musicology is the place for that work, given that it's not a project for technology development, though one of the things I hope to do myself is to discover how far a straightforward application of the state-of-the-art can get you. It was a pleasure to be able to discuss Polina Proutskova's work on establishing a foundation for inference of aspects of vocal production from audio recordings, and I may have committed myself to listening to an unbounded number of Chinese opera fragments...

[ update: the train manager has just announced “overhead line damage at Crewe, a tree on the line at Stafford – we'll do our best to get you to London... today...” ]

[ update update: the train is stationary. Quite stationary. In Warrington Bank Quay station. (The clue is in the name.) ]

[ update³: the train will be moving towards Crewe, as the tree is on the other line. “What happens at Crewe, I have no idea” says the train manager. Answers on a postcard. ]

[ update⁴: currently stopped not quite at Crewe. Still have no idea what happens if we get to Crewe. (Nor what happens if we don't.) ]

[ update⁵: we still don't know what happens once we get to Crewe, beyond that we are moving down the track. It's quite exciting; a voyage into the unknown! ]

[ update⁶: we have just stopped outside one of our extra bonus stops (5 between Crewe and London). Apparently we are delayed because of a fire caused by a lightning strike. ]

[ update⁷: apparently the fire and the lightning strike were separate events. Lightning caused signal failures outside Stafford; Rugby station was closed due to fire. Exciting. ]

[ update⁸: we are now delayed just outside Watford Junction, because the fast train lines have closed for engineering works. Engineering works. Yes. Sorely needed. ]

[ update⁹: it would be tempting fate to claim that all is well, but we are now within the tube network. The roundel has never seemed so welcoming. ]

[ update¹⁰: awesome final stop announcement.
“In a few moments, we will probably be arriving at London Euston, where this train terminates. We apologize for the late arrival of this service, which is due to... where do we start? There were speed restrictions on the line from Glasgow; two fires, one at Crewe, one at Rugby; several trees on the line, we hit one of them; signal failures caused by lightning in the Stafford area; and engineering works between Milton Keynes and Euston. We will shortly arrive at Euston, with just over five hours' delay. Thank you for travelling on Virgin Trains” ]