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Computer May Know the Beatles Albums Better Than You Do

Computer scientists have developed a way to analyze music that can put all the Beatles albums in chronological order, just by listening — no need to look up the dates. The method, created by assistant professor Lior Shamir and grad student Joe George at Lawrence Technical University, first converts the audio into visual data using a spectrum analyzer, then goes at it with a powerful image analyzer.

The system looks for certain chord structures or larger elements like the lengths and types of choruses. By comparing these between albums, it can tell which are most closely associated, and from there, determine which came earliest. It figured out the whole Beatles discography, and did the same for ABBA and Queen — though it did stumble a bit on Tears for Fears. The researchers hope this is just the start of more sophisticated analysis by computers — perhaps predicting hits or recommended tracks. Their study appears in the August issue of the journal Pattern Recognition Letters.

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