Program for detecting whether a song is instrumental?
April 11, 2012 12:44 PM   Subscribe

Is there a programmatic way to detect whether a given song is exclusively instrumental?

I prefer to listen to instrumental music while programming. A lot of music I have is instrumental, but it's all mixed together with vocal songs and manually sorting them is laborious. Is there any software available that can detect which songs are instrumental and which ones aren't? Or is there a publicly available database somewhere that includes that level of metadata?

I've considered running a Mechanical Turk task for each song, to automate the sorting process, but the logistics of making my music library available seems like a hassle, so I thought I'd check here for some other easier way first.
posted by xulu to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I bet echonest could do it.
posted by softlord at 12:44 PM on April 11, 2012

You might find some luck with MusicBrainz API. Based on a cursory glance, it appears that tracks can be tagged, so if the record has been tagged instrumental, it might cover what you're looking for.
posted by ndfine at 1:03 PM on April 11, 2012

I'm sure there is a way to detect instrumental songs. Just a few ideas off the top of my head, of the messy statistical variety:

1. Google for the lyrics to the song title. No lyrics => instrumental.
2. Pay a couple dozen people over years to tag all the music in the world, and then create stations based on instrumental tags.
3. Run voice recognition software and see if it can catch anything. Possibly a bonus since you can run it against only languages you understand.
posted by pwnguin at 3:36 PM on April 11, 2012

Doesn't quite answer your question, but some genres have a lot more instrumentals than others -- techno and post-rock, for example..
posted by empath at 5:28 AM on April 12, 2012

Yeah, Echo Nest is probably your best bet. If you dig through the archives of the Music Machinery blog, you can find examples of stuff very similar to what you're looking for, such as "Speechiness – is it banjo or banter?". And even if Echo Nest doesn't have the capabilities you require, you could probably find something that would solve your problem by digging through the blog or just asking Paul Lamere directly.
posted by archagon at 5:21 PM on April 15, 2012

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