You’ve probably heard music composed by a computer algorithm, though you may not realize it. Artificial intelligence researchers have made huge gains in computational – or algorithmic – creativity over the past decade or two, and in music especially these advances are now filtering through to the real world
AI programs have produced albums in multiple genres. They’ve scored films and advertisements. And they’ve also generated mood music in games and smartphone apps. But what does computer-authored music sound like? Why do it? And how is it changing music creation? Join us, in this first entry in a series of features on creative AI, as we find out.
Semi-retired University of California Santa Cruz professor David Cope has been exploring the intersection of algorithms and creativity for over half a century, first on paper and then with computer. “It seemed even in my early teenage years perfectly logical to do creative things with algorithms rather than spend all the time writing out each note or paint this or write out this short story or develop this timeline word by word by word,” he tells Gizmag.
Cope came to specialize in what he terms algorithmic composition (although, as you’ll see later in this article series, that’s far from all he’s proficient at). He writes sets of instructions that enable computers to automatically generate complete orchestral compositions of any length in a matter of minutes using a kind of formal grammar and lexicon that he’s spent decades refining.
His experiments in musical intelligence began in 1981 as the result of a composer’s block in his more traditional music composition efforts, and he has since written around a dozen books and numerous journal articles on the subject. His algorithms have produced classical music ranging from single-instrument arrangements all the way up to full symphonies by modeling the styles of great composers like Bach and Mozart, and they have at times fooled people into believing that the works were written by human composers. You can listen to one of Cope’s experiments above.
Read more here: Creative AI: Computer composers are changing how music is made
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