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Exploring Mel-Frequency Cepstral Coefficients

MFCC stands for Mel-Frequency Cepstral Coefficients ("cepstral" is pronounced like "kepstral"). This analysis returns a set of values (called "coefficients") that are often used for timbral description and timbral comparison. When using MFCCs, one is usually not concerned with the value of a specific coefficient, but rather considers them as a collection that, when considered together, can represent differences and similarities between timbres. The interactive charts below can help you build some intuition about these values. Use the "Step" buttons below to help you navigate.

Step 1: First, click the "Play" button to hear some sound. The bar chart on the bottom left shows the real-time Mel-Frequency Spectrogram as analyzed by FluCoMa's MelBands object. The 13 MFCC values seen at the bottom right are computed by using the Mel-Frequency Spectrogram as input to the discrete cosine transform (this is how FluCoMa's MFCC object is calculated). This means that the shape of that Mel-Frequency Spectrogram is compared to a number of cosine wave shapes. Each MFCC value represents how similar the Mel-Frequency Spectrogram is to one of these cosine shapes.