music dna logoDagfinn Bach, one of the team behind the original development of the .mp3 file format, and his company Bach Technology have designed and released a new format based on the MPEG-7 platform, intended to provide new ways for producers, consumers and retailers to interact with and gain information about digital music.

There are metadata ‘tags’ associated with each .mp3, .wav, .ogg and .flac music file (as well as all the others) detailing things like the name, duration, author of each particular track – Bach’s new file format MusicDNA has many more of these tags, detailing more complex and intrinsic things about the music it encodes, things relating to the qualities of the music itself, for example:

  • Genre
  • Mood
  • Tempo
  • Aggressiveness
  • Instrument Density
  • Syntheticity
  • Similarity to other tracks

These are only a few of the categories listed in a ‘genotype’ similar in intent to the one that Pandora uses in its “Music Genome Project”, that they use to recommend new music to users of their music streaming service. Other tags can be used to identify the point of origin of a particular file, or record the number of times it has been played, duplicated, altered etc…

music dnaThis richness of ingerent information in a file could be put to a lot of different uses – making it easier to find other types of music a listener is likely to enjoy, building playlists of similar music, automating web radio stations to play particular kinds of music, combatting piracy by tracing files back to their source, in fact, any purpose that the industry can devise:

MusicDNAis BACH’s core technology that is developed in cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute of Digital MediaTechnologies (IDMT). The MusicDNA analyzer is continuously updated and every year new descriptors are added.

As yet, none of the major retailers of labels has subscribed to the use of the new format, but since the Bach Technology launched the project officially at Midem, they’ve had to upgrade their website’s server due to the volume of visits, presumably from interested parties in the music industry.