Reusable software and reproducibility in music informatics research

Tutorial at ISMIR 2012

Mark D. Plumbley, Chris Cannam, Simon Dixon, Steve Welburn and Luis Figueira

Contact Info


The need to develop and reuse software to process data is almost universal in music informatics research. Many methods, including most of those published at ISMIR, are developed in tandem with software implementations, and some of them are too complex or too fundamentally software-based to be reproduced readily from a published paper alone. For this reason, it is helpful for sustainable research to have software and data published along with papers. In practice, non-publication of code and data is still the norm and research software is commonly lost in the years following publication of the associated methods.

During this tutorial we will discuss common barriers to publication of software and data, and will present a practical hands-on session in which attendees will explore tools and methods to help them overcome these barriers. The tutorial will rapidly cover the use of version control software, code hosting facilities, aspects of testing and provenance, and software licensing for publication. Worked examples will be drawn from the music and audio fields, and hands-on help will be provided by experienced researcher-developers from the Centre for Digital Music, Luís Figueira and Steve Welburn. This tutorial will be of immediate practical interest to researchers within the music informatics community, and will also be highly relevant to research supervisors and research group leaders with an interest in policy and guidance.

Pre-Tutorial Preparation

Part of the tutorial will be a live example related to software practice in a research environment. This will be a straightforward example using an audio analysis method for music processing.

Tutorial attendees are invited to code along. Thus, in order to make the most of the tutorial, attendees are advised to bring a laptop and to install the following software before the day of the session.

If you run into any problems installing any of the software from the list below, we will be in the tutorial room from 14:00.

Software Requirements

In order to take better advantage of the tutorial, we suggest that tutorial attendees install the following software beforehand:

Pre-prepared Repository

We've made a Mercurial repository containing some basic code and audio files that are going to be used during the tutorial. It is highly recommended that you clone this to your laptop.

The clone URL is

You can open this using EasyMercurial (see this video for an example of how to open a remote URL), or clone it using the hg command-line tool.