Computers as composers?, Latest Tech News - The New Paper

Computers as composers?

Machines are already taking our jobs, will they soon be writing our music too?

Machines are already taking our jobs, will they soon be writing our music too?

Swiss researchers said on Thursday that they have developed a computer algorithm that can generate brand new tunes in different musical genres.

The deep artificial composer, or DAC, "can produce complete melodies, with a beginning and an end, that are completely original", said co-developer Florian Colombo of the EPFL research university in Lausanne, Switzerland.

And the melodies are "quite agreeable to listen to".

The DAC programme uses a form of artificial intelligence known as "deep learning" that works in a similar way to the human brain in memorising experiences and learning from them.

It is a fast-growing field, with more and more possibilities opening up as computers grow stronger and databases larger.

The DAC system is trained to "listen" to existing tunes to learn what works and what does not.

It teaches itself to predict the pitch and duration of every note following another.

Once it is accurate at predicting 50 per cent of note pitches and 80 per cent of note durations in existing songs, the machine's training is complete.

Then starts the creation.

The goal, however, is not to replace human composers.

"It is more a tool that can be used to stimulate creativity, to aid the process of composing" in periods of writer's block, said Mr Colombo.

He cited Mozart, who is rumoured to have thrown dice to pick notes.

DAC-composed music may eventually be used for jingles, but probably never as "serious music", said Mr Colombo.

"A good composer, with innovative ideas, will never be supplanted by an algorithm," he said.

"A composer puts something of himself in what he creates, and that a machine cannot do."

Several companies, including Google, Sony and IBM, are working on similar projects.