muzeme cover

The premise

Born out of an inquiry into how we discover new music on the internet today, this project attempts to introduce a new paradigm of interaction for the entire process discovering, sharing and listening to music today.

Over the course, this project has been informed by key conceptual inputs, feedback and critical discussion cycles from Harshit Sinha.

How did it all come about?

The project started out while I was travelling along the highway en route to the airport, listening to “Alexi Murdoch” on my iPhone. A beautiful track had just come up on my playlist and the sound just caught my attention rapt, I glanced onto the homescreen to check out the name of the song and suddenly a question occured to me!

“What if we could discover music by the sounds of the instruments used to compose it?”

Keeping that thought along side I started to navigate through my initial thoughts and began to investigate into inquiries around making a project out of this idea. I started asking some more questions:

“Are there ways to discover music without the conventional parameters like genres, top charts, billboards etc?”

““Can we devise a new set of parameters through which a listener discovers new music and can this path radically alter the experience of finding music on the internet?”

Some initial thoughts, mind maps and sketches regarding what the form of a product fecilitating this could be but during this activity I felt I was moving into the ideation phase quite early in the process and needed to step back and thouroughly investigate the scope of the preliminary idea that I had.

Conducting research & a precedent study

The research process began by me asking the most fundamental questions about what is music, the experience of listening to music, what is a musical instrument and how do we associate the feeling associated with the sound of the musical instrument. I started my process with the most fundamental questions I could think of.

whatIsMusic

What is music?

An art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions in significant forms through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and colour. The essential elements of what constitutes as sound in our human perception are:

Pitch • Rhythm • Timbre • Dynamics

musicalInstrument

What is a musical instrument?

A musical instrument is a tool, a device modelled after the human singing voice. They are “sound producing bodies” that possess a certain timbre: the differentiating quality of sound that lends a unique characteristic to every type of instrument that we hear.

This provided a base of further avenues of inquiries that would open up later in the project when I decided to move ahead with conducting a study on how we discover, listen and appreciate music on the platforms available today. What are the behavioral patterns associated with music listening, how are AI engines curating our musical consumption today? How relevant are artists and record labels today in the wide gamut of available techniques to distribute amost any kind of music today?

How do we search for music today?

“From the gramophone to the FM radio, from the Walkman to the MP3 player, from the anarchy of Napster to the algorithmic rule of Pandora, the systems through which we relate to music today only bear a passing resemblance to the ways we listened 100 years ago. And yet, we still listen. Whether music is part of what makes us human, an evolutionary quirk, an escape mechanism, or a distinctly advanced way of relating to our environment, it’s here to stay. And we’ll continue to innovate, challenge, and completely change the ways in which we consume it.”

Asset-11muzeMeMusic2
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Asset-11muzeMeMusic1

This provided a base of further avenues of inquiries that would open up later in the project when I decided to move ahead with conducting a study on how we discover, listen and appreciate music on the platforms available today. What are the behavioral patterns associated with music listening, how are AI engines curating our musical consumption today? How relevant are artists and record labels today in the wide gamut of available techniques to distribute amost any kind of music today?

muzemePrecedents

I conducted a precedent study of blogs, communities, services & products through which people search and discover music and began to run a keyword analysis of all the features that they were currently offering. I also conducted semi structured interviews with 3 users with characteristic musical tastes and listening habits to gain an understanding of their behvaiour w.r.t musical consumption and sources

Analysing the observations

muzeMeAnalysis4

Mapping some contextual scenarios

After analysis and observations on current interfaces available for discovering music, I recognized an opportunity to explore the premise of using sound as a medium to discover new music. Since music by it’s very nature is an aural medium hence this method of discovery could become a key offering which current interfaces currently do not provide.

muzemeAmbient

Scenario 1: Listening to an ambient soundscape

Joseph is sitting peacefully in his a garden when suddenly his attention is caught by the rhythmic chirping of a bird, being very intrigued by the sound of the melodious bird, he launches MuzeMe on his smartphone and “starts listening

muzemeConcert

Scenario 2: Listening to a song

Joseph has come to a club and is partying with his friends when suddenly, a new track on the DJ’s/restaurants playlist catches his attention, he really likes that track and launches MuzeMe on his phone and “starts listening"

muzemeConcert

Scenario 3: Active listening plugin

Joseph is surfing videos on youtube or watching a movie on his phone when suddenly, an ad comes up midway he's just about to skip the ad, but the background music on the ad really catches his attention, he activates the MuzeMe active listening plugin and “starts listening

Sketching out preliminary ideas

I started sketching out the basic flow of how the interface should react to the above discussed scenarios i.e. listen to the soundscape/music and accordingly discover music technically considering factors like BPM, Pitch, TImbre as a reference to associate with the sound.

1 Landing- State 12x
2 Processing- State 12x
3 Playlist- State 12x

I prototyped a few preliminary flows to test them out with an intial round of feedback to inform the high fidelity prototyping.

The search for a visual metaphor

The metaphor chosen was of a Network which symbolises the connectedness of musical tracks by the very virtue of them having similar attributes (read instruments). You can use this interface to build your own network on the basis of instrument clusters that you put together to discover new music and share it in a musically connected social network.

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Looking for inspiration

These visualisations of a network signify interconnectedness, association and relationships amongst the entities which are further treated as the characteristic qualitites of the sounds of musical intruments and how they're related to each other. 

muzemeInstrumentMood1
muzemeInstrumentMood2
muzemeInstrumentMood3

High fidelity prototyping

The mockups and the interactive prototype detailing out the flow and behavior of the interface in the scenarios of detecting sound bytes from either ambient soundscapes or musical environments.

Illustrated flows

1 start_listeningmuzemeInterface
2 listeningmuzemeInterface
3 track_identifiedmuzemeInterface
4 track_displaymuzemeInterface
5 track_networkmuzemeInterface
6 track_playingmuzemeInterface
7 track_seekingmuzemeInterface
8 track_timelinemuzemeInterface
9 instrumentmuzemeInterface
10 dbi_notificationmuzemeInterface
11 dbi_addmuzemeInterface
12 dbi_add_stringmuzemeInterface
13 dbi_add_banjomuzemeInterface
14 dbi_add_banjomuzemeInterface

Prototyping behaviour and the interaction model

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