Can AI compose music?

July 21, 2017

Ever since the first caveman struck two rocks against each other and went “ug, that’s gonna be a catchy tune” the music as an art form is developing at an impressive rate. Each era has its own marvel. Ours is AI. But how it all started?

First question. Why?

While a question like ‘why the first computer generated song was Jazz?’ Arise immediately, we’d like to go a bit deeper: Why do we make machines make music? And to answer that question, we have to ask who and when actually started all this?

Our best bet would be Alan Turing- a World War II code-breaker and forefather of artificial intelligence. The man introduced a blindfold test to see whether computers could fool humans into believing they were communicating with other humans. This happened in 1950, mind you, but the test proved that they can.

From there, artificial intelligence could only go forward.

Synthesizers and so on…

One of the first steps towards the inevitable demise of Justin Bieber’s as musical existence was the invention and implementation of synthesizers. Those emulated sounds and allowed to use them without the actual instruments. They still required a human hand and mind (and soul, but let’s not jump to hasty conclusions since synthesizers were eagerly used by the creepy people like Eurythmics.) Then there’s movie, literature and finally human ingenuity, constantly pushing the boundaries of ‘impossible’ further and further away. One thing leads to another we have AI that makes music based on John Coltrane and Bach, now Sony is going to release an album of Pop music composed solely by AI composer. And don’t even get us started on Daft Punk!

AI composed music

The thing is that AI made music is based on the same principles as all AI made ‘creations’. It’s an outcome of a learning process, a series of questions with answers or questions with exceptions. A series of ones and zeroes, at the end of which we have an algorithm- distilled set of answers. AI can analyze and brew a solution of a plethora of tunes, sounds, and rhythms. ‘Every work of music contains a set of instructions for creating different but highly related replications of itself’- says David Cope, a computer scientist, composer, and author in 1981.

It is a truly wonderful time witness the birth of possible The Beatles 2 or the comeback of Elvis Presley (2.0)

One day we will all look back and wonder how we could not let the machines make music for us. We ask this question every time Despacito plays on the radio. And let’s hope it’ll come soon because this kind of system crashes will not be acceptable in the future.

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