MusicBox demo video

I finally had the time (and the computer!) to put together a demo video of MusicBox. This video, more than the others on this site, shows a wide range of features, all from the most recent version of the software.  I hope you find it a helpful introduction to my thesis project. [Go to the video: QuickTime | YouTube (Note the HD version!)]

As always, I welcome your questions and feedback!

MusicBox banner


  1. Comment by Ben

    Posted on November 5, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    That’s fantastic work. The ability to visualize audio based on so many dimensions opens up so many possibilities.

  2. Comment by chanel

    Posted on November 13, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    Ever since I found out about, I’ve been really interesting in a graphical music recommendation interface. I am really impressed with your implementation. Despite not having graduate level expertise in this subject area, I hope to create something very similar but within my scope of knowledge.

  3. Comment by Anonymous

    Posted on December 15, 2008 at 4:13 am

    Amazing. You’re my hero.

  4. Comment by Mark Schoneveld

    Posted on December 15, 2008 at 11:40 am

    Wow – this looks really interesting. Will you be developing this software for release? Is it a web-based app?

  5. Comment by Zach

    Posted on December 15, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    You did an amazing job! Do you have any plans to release the source or publish builds for people to use?

    Your visualization and interaction techniques especially for creating playlists across the spectrum look to be quite fun to use. :)

  6. Comment by Anonymous

    Posted on December 15, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    That is quite amazing. I’ve heard of similar program but they only map with some basic analysis (BPM, length, etc..).

    Do you plan on releasing the code? I can see many people being interested in it!

  7. Comment by sstave

    Posted on December 15, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    This is a beautifully thought our UX.

    I love the transition playlist and the axes based filters.

    It would be wonderful to see the visualization as a data viewing portal as opposed to *only* a music app.

    If you could grab any data set with meta data attached and visualize based on common shared properties.

    Obviously video is an natural extension, but to see as well the ability to say filter through location data (organized around geospatial relations such as distance from, elevation)

    Or to bring it fully, to sort results of dynamic queries – such as how to properly sort yelp results…

    anyway, fantastic work.

  8. Comment by Matthew Zartman

    Posted on December 15, 2008 at 10:57 pm


    Great job on the interface. At first glance it seemed as if it was going to be like all of the other unnecessary and cumbersome music player interfaces. I’ll admit “cover flow” and the like are visually pleasing, but they definitely serve no purpose from an organizational or productivity standpoint (not that I’m trying to be all that productive when I’m sitting back and listening to some tunes).

    I just wanted to recommend, from what I heard in the video, that you incorporate a “smarter” method of changing tracks. There seemed to be clicks when you pressed the “next track” button. I don’t know much about the way your interface is coded, but I don’t think it would be the hardest project in the world to have the program analyze the song being played, and wait the milliseconds necessary to change the track without the click. This would mean waiting until the track reached a 0V output, I assume. Electrical Engineering student, but not expert in signal analysis yet.

    Hope that’s any help. I’m sure that is the least of your worries. Good work on the project as a whole though!


  9. Comment by Quartermann

    Posted on December 15, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    As someone that is studying Technology Realization as their grad work, I gotta say that this definitely has potential! License it to Apple, maybe?

  10. Comment by Caleb

    Posted on December 15, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    I’m looking forward to seeing a release I can play with.

    thank you.

  11. Comment by Anonymous

    Posted on December 16, 2008 at 12:28 am

    There is a discussion on this going on at

  12. Comment by Zack

    Posted on December 16, 2008 at 12:46 am

    Wow! Thank you so much for bringing such fantastic programing and innovation into the world. For those of you wondering where she is going with this project, read the end of her thesis:

    “I hope to make a simpli?ed version of MusicBox for the Apple iPod/iPhone. With a platform
    designed to enable such easy map navigation and music playback, the iPhone begs for an
    innovative spatial music player like MusicBox. Users’ music libraries would be analyzed and
    stored on their personal computers, then synced to their iPod/iPhone. The MusicBox player on
    the iPod/iPhone would simply visualize the space and allow the user to move about inside it in
    order to ?nd music of interest. Simple shuf?e and ?ltering features would be included. To take
    even greater advantage of the connectedness of the iPhone, the view of a user’s personal library
    could also be enhanced by setting it against a backdrop of the iTunes Music Store, showing
    relevant recommendations and encouraging discovery with instant reward.
    MusicBox can also provide a way to navigate a social music space. A social network like
    MySpace, for example, could bene?t greatly from having a geography by which to navigate its
    artists. Thus, MusicBox can act as a gateway to an ever-expanding social music
    experience. ”

    Fantastic stuff.

  13. Comment by Evan

    Posted on December 16, 2008 at 1:47 am

    Extremely impressive. When do we get to download this sucker?

  14. Comment by Sam

    Posted on December 16, 2008 at 2:25 am

    This is an epic program. When will you have a download available (even in alpha or beta)?

    The next step it seems would be to throw one out and invite user feedback! I want to play with this program sooooo bad as I have so much indie music I haven’t had the chance to listen to yet and mapping it all through this would be incredible.

  15. Comment by JG

    Posted on December 16, 2008 at 9:58 am

    So where/when can we download the beta? Also, how is the code licensed?

  16. Comment by Timothy

    Posted on December 16, 2008 at 11:29 am

    I want it for Christmas!

  17. Comment by Juan Pablo Olivo

    Posted on December 16, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    Great great intelligent way to manage music libraries. With latest growth of personal music libraries where they can be as large as thousands of songs, this comes as an invaluable tool to keep the organized and hear what you want.

  18. Comment by ettore

    Posted on December 16, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    fucking awesome work
    now you just have to provide a download link :)

  19. Comment by Anthony

    Posted on December 16, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    Very very cool. I would love to try this out. It would even be better if it were some kind of visualizer plug-in for iTunes. My wife and I have about 500 GB of music, so I am very curious how it would work for such a large collection.

  20. Comment by SB

    Posted on December 16, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    Anita – When can I buy a copy. Want it for my wife for Christmas.

    Best, Scott

  21. Comment by Adam

    Posted on December 16, 2008 at 4:06 pm


    AMAZING!!! Please let me know if you release this software as I’d love to give it a spin! Keep up the great work :)


  22. Comment by Bis

    Posted on December 16, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    This blew my mind. I will read more about it, but the video gives you a clear example of what this can do for a music collector.

    In my case I have thousands of songs that I would like to process, so I wonder if the MusicBox database will be able to handle all of it (specially since I have about 700 Genres/Sub-genres).

    I love this!

  23. Comment by Jason

    Posted on December 16, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    Did you code this in Processing ?

  24. Comment by sinoth

    Posted on December 16, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    Beautiful! I hope you decide to share this with the world.

  25. Comment by Xivos

    Posted on December 16, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    Awesome app, but are you aware of the agony you have just inflicted on thousands of geeks who now lust after it, yet can’t get it *now*? ;)

  26. Comment by MAD VILLAiN

    Posted on December 16, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    Yo, got here via the demo video and, damnnnnn that looks so good.
    I really love this idea. Can’t wait to see more, I added this to my bookmarks.

    Oh and the voice was also sexy it was a nice add haha.

  27. Comment by Anonymous Coward

    Posted on December 16, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    That is simply amazing!!! When do you start selling it???

  28. Comment by moeshere

    Posted on December 17, 2008 at 1:16 am

    your future looks so bright your going to need shades….and remember when they come calling and they will need seven numbers to get your program it’s all about the money mores better hehe have a great time with it I just loved it moe..

  29. Comment by Anita

    Posted on December 17, 2008 at 1:25 am

    Hi, everyone! Thanks so much for all these amazing comments… It’s so great to hear that people are ready for different interfaces for music libraries. Your comments definitely encourage me to work on making MusicBox a real, distributable app.

    I’m trying to respond to all the people who wrote to me, but it will take me a few days (I started a new job yesterday, of all days!).

    In the meantime, I’ll try to briefly address some of your questions…

    Is the software available?

    No. I know that sucks, but there are a few reasons it isn’t available. The biggest ones are: this is just a prototype (not necessarily robust), MIT has rights to it, and I don’t have the time it takes to bring this up to scratch right now.

    What are my plans for MusicBox? (open-source, even?)

    I’m not sure right now. It may someday be an app I could share with all of you, but unfortunately that won’t happen anytime in the next few months. I would try to open-source the code, but there are more licensing restrictions I need to deal with first. :P

    Will this be an iPhone app?

    Right now third-party apps can’t access the music on an iPhone. This presents a huge barrier to making an app like MusicBox for the iPhone.

    What’s the song in the top-right corner?

    It is a New Age track by Christopher of the Wolves, called “Didgeridoo”. And it is, well, a didgeridoo track. I thought this was available on Magnatune, but I don’t see it there anymore. I think it is Track 8 on this album.

    MusicBox’s application for dealing with more general data, not just music…

    The interface in MusicBox could definitely be applied to other data sets; there’s no reason it has to be music. Anything for which we can define quantitative features could be looked at with this tool. Super-props to the person who pointed that out, because really, that’s the kind of stuff I really want to get into… MusicBox is just a way to show that music is a great data set to apply this approach to.

    I don’t like the QuickTime video format…

    Someone was kind enough to put up a YouTube version.

    What language is this coded in?

    MusicBox is all in Java, and uses Processing for the visuals. Processing is a lot of fun.

    Is there a mailing list?

    I will make one over the holidays. Drop me a line if you’d like to be added to it (If you’ve already told me, I’ll add you, don’t worry!).

  30. Comment by B. Moore

    Posted on December 17, 2008 at 3:01 am

    simply amazing! before you burn out on this idea it would be great to see this turn into a huge community project.

  31. Comment by JPK

    Posted on December 17, 2008 at 8:08 am

    simply amazing!

  32. Comment by matthew

    Posted on December 17, 2008 at 9:43 am


    Thanks for sharing this fantastic application with us all. I have an extensive music library and love how you can more easily see your true collection. When your library goes into the thousands of songs it is easy to loose sight of songs and artists because you may not remember how it fits into a genre.
    Your application is amazing, it gives you complete control of your music. If you do ever get around to releasing this or convincing the powers to be at MIT to allow that you will have a run away success. There is a huge need for this application.

    Good luck with the new job and I hope you have a happy christmas.

  33. Comment by Dollen

    Posted on December 17, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    Crazy cool idea and just the beginning of some amazing possibility. I already have a couple of ideas for this.. please but be on the alpha/beta test list. I would love to give you some input.

    Rj Dollen

  34. Comment by Mikey B

    Posted on December 17, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    Fabulous idea, and I hope you begin to get more recognition for it.
    You know what my first thought was while watching your video of it? What a brilliant app to use with a touch/multitouch based interface….

  35. Comment by oo7

    Posted on December 17, 2008 at 7:56 pm


    quit your job. I can’t believe somebody hasn’t swooped you up to develop this full time. Although there are barriers to getting it on the iPhone, there is still a huge market for it.

    From wiki:
    A killer application (commonly shortened to killer app), in the jargon of computer programmers and video gamers, has been used to refer to any computer program that is so necessary or desirable that it provides the core value of some larger technology, such as a gaming console, software, operating system, or piece of computer hardware. In this sense, a killer app substantially increases sales of the platform that supports it. In more general terms, a killer app is an application so compelling that someone will buy the hardware or software components necessary to run it.

  36. Comment by MDL

    Posted on December 17, 2008 at 10:05 pm

    Are there presently or will there be patent encumbrance issues, or is it just a code licensing issue?

    This is pretty neat stuff, and I can’t imagine that the FOSS community won’t take notice and start hacking together Banshee/Amarok plugins that accomplish similar things.

    Even if you can’t release it, I’m sure someone’s already working on it! :)

  37. Comment by db

    Posted on December 18, 2008 at 6:28 am


    Looks like a fine application – Might it even make you rich I wonder?!

    Please add me to your mailing list.

    A thought – is it not possible to actually review the music and so group it as opposed to depending on tags of genre?

    Best wishes for the festive season –


  38. Comment by srikanth

    Posted on December 19, 2008 at 1:44 am

    Fantastic work! Some of those ideas would work well for other visualization problems as well. And yes, I’d like to subscribe to your mailing list.

  39. Comment by zuppaman

    Posted on December 19, 2008 at 4:45 am

    Waiting for something like this for years.
    Add me to the mailing list.

  40. Comment by TJP

    Posted on December 19, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    Great visual analysis tool. I too see great applications beyond music library analysis.

    This seems like an intuitive visual analysis tool that would interest the people at Tableau Software, They are who popped to mind as I watched your demo.

    Good luck with this and all your endevors.

  41. Comment by Rasmus

    Posted on December 20, 2008 at 11:42 am

    The video doesn’t seem to be working.

  42. Comment by gregorylent

    Posted on December 21, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    just get a question mark, wont load

  43. Comment by gregorylent

    Posted on December 21, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    geotarded? thanks..

  44. Comment by Mitch

    Posted on December 21, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    Like many of the other comment-ors, I have been looking for this for years. I can wait a a little longer while you sort out the new job (congrats!), IP and licensing, etc.
    In addition to a elegant visualization tool, I loved your thesis.

  45. Comment by Frederik

    Posted on December 27, 2008 at 10:01 am

    Great work! This app has so much potential!

    Please add me to the mailing list :)

  46. Comment by Shahid

    Posted on January 27, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    Great work! I love the application, and I hope that it’ll be released in some form one day. Looking forward to hearing more about your work in years to come!


  47. Comment by T

    Posted on January 29, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    Awesome work! It’s been a month since your last post about MusicBox, any updates on the possibility of seeing it open sourced?
    It would be a huge waste if somebody had to try to reimplement it all over as free software just because of some lousy licensing policy :(

  48. Comment by Marcus

    Posted on January 31, 2009 at 7:38 am

    Waycool! Please add me to your mailing list.

  49. Comment by Jason Palmer

    Posted on January 31, 2009 at 9:13 am

    I need this! This is an amazing piece of software. PLEASE let us know when and where it will be released!

  50. Comment by Rob

    Posted on January 31, 2009 at 10:11 am

    Wow, I just saw this on reddit and it looks great!

    I’d definitely love to be added to the mailing list!


  51. Comment by duckworthd

    Posted on January 31, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    I’m a student at UC Berkeley (undergrad), so I can hardly fathom a tenth of what must have gone into this project. What impresses me most isn’t even the visualization, but just your ability numerically analyze audio signals according to so many different elements, and ACCURATELY. Though often, just because something is mathematically similar does not always mean it’s similar when registered by the human mind. If you have time, could you tell us about how you extracted these characteristics?

  52. Comment by Not Anita, just some guy

    Posted on February 1, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    The video’s gotten about 8,300 new hits in the last 36 hours. Yay Reddit.

    And I recently added a subtitle track, which should help international viewers.

    I’d also like to know how to get on the mailing list. Has anything been sent out yet?

  53. Comment by dominic

    Posted on February 21, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    please make this awesome work available to us!!

  54. Comment by Liz Sumners

    Posted on March 18, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Brilliant – cleverly put together with pure simplicity for the user. Well done but please add me to your mailing list for when this product becomes available – soon I hope.


  55. Comment by Jesse

    Posted on March 22, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    This seems like a quite good idea, and is miles beyond any of the “smart playlists” in any of the current music players.

    Please add me to the mailing list.

  56. Comment by Paul C.

    Posted on March 26, 2009 at 8:15 am

    very cool app. I tried to imagine the color pattern I would get with my exotic library!! I’m hooked! Please add me to the mailing list.

  57. Comment by zazi

    Posted on April 6, 2009 at 3:41 am

    Thank you for your great work on the state-of-the-art for music visualisation. You include very cool features. However, it will also take a lot of time to scale the product to a final release (usability, data reduction, …).Fortunatelly, I found a product that includes some of your ideas. So they maybe on the right. Of course, it isn’t also perfect (so I would pay money for that too) but it points into the right direction.
    For more information have a look

  58. Comment by anne

    Posted on April 10, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    anita, really great work! hope we can use it some day …

    some time ago i stumbled upon a similar project from 2007.

    ask for the „prototype“ — it‘s a non interactive kind of video but really good …

    kind regards — anne

  59. Comment by Rasmus

    Posted on May 19, 2009 at 10:13 am

    This program is so impressive! I can’t wait to try it out one day. Good luck with the development. Please add me to the mailing list :)

    Kind regards

  60. Comment by Ryan

    Posted on June 2, 2009 at 11:06 am

    Please add me to your mailing list. I absolutely cannot wait for this to be released, it’s breathtaking. You are brilliant. If I were Steve Jobs, I’d hire you right now and let you run my iTunes department. Thanks for the video, can’t wait to hear about any developments…


  61. Comment by Music Lover

    Posted on June 13, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    it’d be great if myspace or soundclick had this… it’s hard work getting thru it all to find what you like.

  62. Comment by Andrew Harvey

    Posted on June 21, 2009 at 6:44 am

    This is awesome! I hope this is released as open source, if not then I hope something does get released, because this is too good to be missing out on.

  63. Comment by dickon

    Posted on September 2, 2009 at 3:46 am

    Anita, have just stumbled upon your work and love it!

    Please add me to your newsletter / mailling list and when (NOT “if”!) a beta comes along, I’ll be honoured to test it for you. Excellent!

    Just the thing to help dredge through my 35K songlist (which iTunes every now and again seems to corrupt!)

  64. Comment by Stephan

    Posted on September 15, 2009 at 10:26 am

    We’ve just shared this with the team in the office,
    love the visual side of things

    Where did you get the inspiration, really nice

    Electric Ears – Music Iphone apps

  65. Comment by Miss E Sumners

    Posted on October 25, 2009 at 4:39 am

    This is truly brilliant and a must for music collectors, please add me to your list and hope this is available very very soon

  66. Comment by dominic

    Posted on November 18, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    please add me to the mailing list!! thanks!! looking forward to have a copy of your amazing work!!

  67. Pingback by Visualización de Música | ¿Qué es todo esto entonces!

    Posted on January 18, 2010 at 2:05 am

    [...] conseguir una idea de lo que quiero decir, mire de como Anita Lillie diseñó un método excelente de arreglar una música playlist. Aquí está una demostración de su proyecto de [...]

  68. Comment by Zibby

    Posted on February 5, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    Has there been any updates on this project? Please add me to your mailing list.

  69. Comment by hush-hush

    Posted on February 8, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Hello, great works !
    it’s amazing. Where is the project now ? You say at the end of 2008 that you may open the source code, can we hope try it some days ? I will love how it works !

  70. Comment by Kerouac

    Posted on April 1, 2010 at 10:28 am

    wow i’m impressed.. This is a huge step in personal music collection management. if u still check this site please add me to the mailinglist. thx!

  71. Comment by musica

    Posted on April 16, 2010 at 6:48 am

    hi, you have a cool blog here. i already bookmarked it. thanks. :)

  72. Comment by Plop

    Posted on March 25, 2013 at 10:28 am

    Great work! For those who want a functional API, someone has made an extension for SongBird for his similar thesis.

  73. Comment by Douglas

    Posted on March 29, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    whatever became of this, is it downloadable somewhere, because I would LOVE to try sorting my music this way.

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