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Music signal processing may appear to be the junior relation of the large and mature field of speech signal processing, not least because many techniques and representations originally developed for speech have been applied to music, often with good results. However, music signals possess specific acoustic and structural characteristics that distinguish them from spoken language or other nonmusical signals. This paper provides an overview of some signal analysis techniques that specifically address musical dimensions such as melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. We will examine how particular characteristics of music signals impact and determine these techniques, and we highlight a number of novel music analysis and retrieval tasks that such processing makes possible. Our goal is to demonstrate that, to be successful, music audio signal processing techniques must be informed by a deep and thorough insight into the nature of music itself.