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Piano transcription with deep neural networks (2017)
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This is a deep-neural-network based piano transcription tool I created back in summer 2017. I was invited to present this research at the 2017 Joint Mathematics Meetings.

Image of probability piano-roll


The transcriber requires the following libraries on Python 3, and all their dependencies:

  • NumPy
  • Tensorflow
  • Keras
  • soundfile
  • resampy
  • music21


To run the system, execute the following command:

python3 '/path/to/audio.ogg'

The onset times of detected notes will be printed to stdout.


Under my the standard mir_eval benchmarks, the system consistently achieves an 80% f-measure on the MAPS piano dataset, which, to the best of my knowledge, was on par with general (i.e. no per-piano fine-tuning) state-of-the art systems at the time.

I submitted this system to the 2017 MIREX music information retrieval contest. Unfortunately, it did worse than anticipated, with an f-measure of 36%. I suspect this was due to unanticipated audio normalization issues. I did not have the time or resources to develop the system further, but I hope to continue development at some point.

How it Works

The audio file is first converted to a time-frequency representation via the constant-Q tranform (CQT). We use a time resolution of 20 frames per second, with 36 bins per octave and a Q-factor of 96.

The input to the neural network is a 16-frame window of the CQT magnitude spectrum. The network outputs a vector of 88 probabilities for the likelihood of a note onset at the central frame. We then use the probability piano-roll to estimate note onsets with some simple post-processing.

The network was trained on a procedurally generated dataset of random chords, synthesized with a variety of soundfonts. This reduces overfitting dramatically compared to traditional approaches (training over a curated dataset).

More details are available in the abstract for my MIREX submission. The dataset is described in more detail (with an older version of the DNN model) in my paper. Please keep in mind that I wrote these papers in high school; looking back now, my writing style could use some significant improvements.

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