Machine Listening Lab 2018: The year in review

2018 has been a fascinating year for the Machine Listening Lab. Here are the headlines!

Grant success and projects


  • MLLab Symposium 2018: featuring an invited industrial speaker (Katerina Kosta, Jukedeck), 3 internal speakers, and 11 lightning talks from students and postdocs. There were 42 attendees including MLLab members, interested people from around QMUL, and a collaborator visiting from Brazil (Rodrigo Schramm).
  • SoundCamp 2018: Animal Diplomacy Bureau, an art/design/public engagement commission by Kaylene Kau for Dan Stowell’s research project. Lots of members of the public, adults and children, engaged with bird sounds and birds’ lives in a park in South London. 43-ba8a4006-kaylene_explaining_kidsMLLab students helped make this a success: Will Wilkinson, Veronica Morfi, and Sophie McDonald.
  • QMUL Festival of Ideas, a group of MLLab academics and postdocs got together to play FolkRNN tunes from Bob Sturm’s algorithm.
  • The second Bird Audio Detection challenge took place in Summer 2018: a data challenge lead-organised by Dan Stowell. Thirteen teams from around the world took part, and the highest-scoring systems represented a dramatic improvement on the state of the art.
  • Emmanouil Benetos was Programme Co-Chair for the 19th International Society for Music Information Retrieval Conference (ISMIR 2018).
  • Machine Listening Lab researchers took part in the 2018 Workshop and Challenge on Detection and Classification of Acoustic Scenes and Events (DCASE 2018) – presenting papers and also leading a task on Bird Audio Detection. (More info)
  • Dan Stowell announced a Special Session on “Wildlife Bioacoustics and Adaptive Signal Processing”, to happen at the ICASSP 2019 conference. He will chair it together with Naomi Harte and Theo Damoulas.


  • Dan Stowell and Emmanouil Benetos were awarded Turing Fellowships from The Alan Turing Institute (2018-2020).
  • Emmanouil Benetos received the “Outstanding Contribution to ISMIR Award” from the International Society for Music Information Retrieval (Oct 2018).
  • Emmanouil Benetos was promoted to Senior Lecturer (Oct 2018).
  • Emmanouil Benetos received a “Research Performance Award” from the Faculty of Science & Engineering of Queen Mary University of London (Jan 2018).

New people, visitors, and farewells


  • We said farewell to Bob Sturm – a founding member and co-leader of the MLLab, he has now moved to Stockholm to take up a position as Associate Professor at KTH.
  • Congratulations to MLLab PhD student Maria Panteli, who successfully defended her PhD on Computational Analysis of World Music Corpora (April 2018).

New people:

Visiting researchers:

  • Pavel Linhart and Tereza Petruskova (Czech Republic)
  • Vincent Lostanlen (Cornell University & New York University, USA)
  • Mathieu Lagrange and Felix Gontier (Ecole Centrale de Nantes, France)

Editorial activities

Invited talks

  • Dan Stowell gave the invited opening lecture at the 2018 Intelligent Sensing Summer School (video online here), and an invited talk at Silwood Park (Imperial College London).
  • Emmanouil Benetos gave a keynote on “Automatic transcription of world music collections” at the 8th International Workshop on Folk Music Analysis, Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2018.
  • Emmanouil Benetos gave an invited talk on “Automatic Music Transcription: Representations and Categorical (mis)Conceptions” at the 5th International Conference on Analytical Approaches to World Music, Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2018.

Selected Publications

Book chapters:

Approaches to complex sound scene analysis
E Benetos, D Stowell, and M D Plumbley
Computational Analysis of Sound Scenes and Events, Springer, 2018

Computational bioacoustic scene analysis
D Stowell
Computational Analysis of Sound Scenes and Events, Springer, 2018

Journal articles:

Deep Learning for Audio Event Detection and Tagging on Low-Resource Datasets
V Morfi and D Stowell
Applied Sciences 8 (8), 1397

Automatic acoustic detection of birds through deep learning: the first Bird Audio Detection challenge
D Stowell, MD Wood, H Pamuła, Y Stylianou, and H Glotin
Methods in Ecology and Evolution

A supervised classification approach for note tracking in polyphonic piano transcription
JJ Valero-Mas, E Benetos, and JM Iñesta
Journal of New Music Research, 1-15

A review of manual and computational approaches for the study of world music corpora
M Panteli, E Benetos, and S Dixon
Journal of New Music Research 47 (2), 176-189

Speaker recognition with hybrid features from a deep belief network
H Ali, SN Tran, E Benetos, and ASA Garcez
Neural Computing and Applications 29 (6), 13-19

Detection and classification of acoustic scenes and events: Outcome of the DCASE 2016 challenge
A Mesaros, T Heittola, E Benetos, P Foster, M Lagrange, T Virtanen, and MD Plumbley
IEEE/ACM Transactions on Audio, Speech and Language Processing (TASLP) 26 (2), 379-393