Departmental Papers (CIS)

Date of this Version

December 2002

Document Type

Conference Paper


Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 15 (NIPS 2002), pages 1205-1212. Publisher URL:


We have implemented a real time front end for detecting voiced speech and estimating its fundamental frequency. The front end performs the signal processing for voice-driven agents that attend to the pitch contours of human speech and provide continuous audiovisual feedback. The algorithm we use for pitch tracking has several distinguishing features: it makes no use of FFTs or autocorrelation at the pitch period; it updates the pitch incrementally on a sample-by-sample basis; it avoids peak picking and does not require interpolation in time or frequency to obtain high resolution estimates; and it works reliably over a four octave range, in real time, without the need for postprocessing to produce smooth contours. The algorithm is based on two simple ideas in neural computation: the introduction of a purposeful nonlinearity, and the error signal of a least squares fit. The pitch tracker is used in two real time multimedia applications: a voice-to-MIDI player that synthesizes electronic music from vocalized melodies, and an audiovisual Karaoke machine with multimodal feedback. Both applications run on a laptop and display the user’s pitch scrolling across the screen as he or she sings into the computer.

Additional Files

matlab.txt (4 kB)



Date Posted: 18 October 2004

This document has been peer reviewed.