Merlin tutorial at Interspeech 2017

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A super-simple speech recogniser

We make what is possibly the world’s simplest speech recognition system. It can only recognise two different words, but will help you understand the basic idea of pattern recognition using template matching. The templates are just pre-recorded words, with known labels. The features extracted are just two formant frequencies in the middle of the word, […]

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The Gaussian probability density function: understanding the equation

The equation for the Gaussian probability density function looks a little scary at first, but this video should help you understand what each of the terms is doing, and how they fit together. After watching the video download the spreadsheet which shows the calculations and plots from this video (tip: the Apple version includes images […]

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Pipeline architecture for TTS

Pipeline architecture

Most text-to-speech systems split the problem into two main stages. The first stage is called the front end and contains many separate processes which gradually build up a linguistic specification from the input text. The second stage typically uses language-independent techniques (although they still require a language-specific speech corpus) to generate a waveform. Here we see those two […]

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Sampling and quantisation

Is digital better than analogue? Here we discover that there are limitations when storing waveforms digitally. We learn that the consequence of sampling at a fixed rate is an upper limit on the frequencies that can be represented, called the Nyquist frequency. In addition to the limitations of sampling, storing each sample of the waveform as a […]

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ICPhS 2015 keynote: What speech synthesis can do for you

A recording of my invited keynote lecture at the International Congress of Phonetic Sciences in Glasgow, August 2015. Apologies for the poor quality – this recording was made from the audience, on a smartphone,

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Entropy: understanding the equation

The equation for entropy is very often presented in textbooks without much explanation, other than to say it has the desired properties. Here, I attempt an informal derivation of the equation starting from uniform probability distributions. A good way to think about information is in terms of sending messages. In the video, we send messages […]

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My inaugural lecture

I talk about how speech synthesis works, in what I hope is a non-technical and accessible way, and finish off with an application of speech synthesis that gives personalised voices to people who are losing the ability to speak. I also try to mention bicycles as many times as possible.

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Spectrum and spectrogram

The spectrum and the spectrogram are much more useful ways of analysing speech signals than the waveform. We look at how to create them using Wavesurfer and what effect the analysis window size has on what we see.    

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When we say that a signal is non-stationary we mean that its properties, such as the spectrum, change over time. To analyse signals like this, we need to first assume that these properties do not change over some short period of time, called the frame. We can then analyse individual frames of the signal, one at a […]

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Wave propagation on the surface of water

At the Alhambra (Granada, Spain) I saw this nice example of waves from a point source propagating in all directions at a fixed speed.

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Autocorrelation for estimating F0


Most methods for estimating F0 start from autocorrelation. The idea is pretty simple: we are just looking for a repeating pattern in the waveform, which corresponds to the periodic vocal fold activity. For some waveforms, it might be possible to do that directly in the time domain, but in general that doesn’t work very well. […]

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