By Ian Evans, on 21 June 2019
Great thanks to this year’s Dean’s Strategic fund, I was able to attend the Music Encoding Conference (MEC) in University of Vienna from 29th of May to 1st of June. It is a critical annual gathering for the Music Encoding Initiative community, and I got the chance to meet all kinds of researchers at this cross-disciplinary venue, ranging from musicologists, librarians, technologists and programmers and so on, learning and joining the discussion of new advances and possibilities in the colliding fields’ researches.
Unfortunately, I missed the pre-conference workshop on 28th of June and first half-day’s presentations due to personal health issue, but luckily, I made it to the rest two days and had a great time there. I listened to presentations and participated in poster session discussion covering various topics. At first, I was bit afraid to ask questions given that I was the only master student and my knowledge base might not be sufficient, but it turned out that everyone in the community is inclusive and kind, especially after few glasses of wine J
(Paper session presentation)
I feel so grateful that I could join this conference because my current dissertation topic is about Music Information Retrieval, focusing on Machine Learning. And Music Encoding is a critical component for music information retrieval. I had the chance to connect with the researchers who share similar interests, and also, they gave me invaluable insights about what could be achieved in this field through their presentations as well as one to one discussion during social hours. I found several presentations particularly interesting like Harmony building based on Voice leading, improved performance based on score through neural networks, database building for symbolic music files etc. I talked to the corresponding first authors K. Giannos, D. Jeong, and Y. Ju, and they were really patient and expressive in terms of sharing their research insights, and after sharing my dissertation research focus, they gave me their contacts for future conversations, which was awesome.
(Poster session presentation)
I found that the DH courses were highly correlated and helped a lot in terms of understanding the presentations, especially for the MusicXML/MEI encoding, Ontology building and machine learning.
And unexpectedly, I was asked for Q&A translation help, given that I am bilingual in Chinese and English for, Prof. Li Xiaonuo, who was presenting A Visualization Analysis of the Composition, Performance and Hearing. Later on, she kindly introduced me to more researchers in the field and invited me to join their discussions. Through participating in their discussion, even though as a translator, I learnt from both sides and many professors thanked me for my contributions, though to me the translation was a very small and voluntary piece of effort, I can still feel the kindness and positiveness in this field.
One high light for me in this conference is that I noticed the music diversity is uprising. Though the music notation and classical music is undoubtful western dominant, there is independent researcher from India who is doing digital encoding and notion analysis, as well as Chinese and Korean researchers focusing on contemporary Asian Music. Forgive me if I get too sensitive, but as a Chinese myself, hearing home music and listening to the presentation about it in Vienna, is not the experience that I could have every day. But I guess that’s the beauty of the music related conference, where all kinds of researchers, regardless of culture backgrounds, can all enjoy and discuss the possibilities and meanings of different kinds of music.
At last, we had conference dinner by invitation of City of Vienna to the “Heuriger” s’Pfiff. It has a quiet garden sitting on the hill, and the buffet food was more delicious than I had expected!
All in all, I am so grateful that I could have the chance to explore further in this research field, and connected with researchers sharing similar interests. Hopefully this will not be my last conference attending and thanks again for the Dean’s Strategic fund.