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Topic: Virtual Composing

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  1. #1
    Senior Member fastlane's Avatar
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    Virtual Composing

    Emily Howell is David Cope's latest attempt to create music with artificial intelligence.

    I haven't listened to a whole piece but the music sounds interesting if not erie.

    Will AI someday compete with or even replace human composers?

    If composing is an expression of ones inner self what would the music composed by AI be an expression of.

    Here are some examples. There is an album also available titled Emily Howell- From Darkness, Light.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOjV5eDXkyc



    Phil

  2. #2

    Re: Virtual Composing

    AI will never replace human performance or creativity. AI has a long, long way to go before artificially produced music will be welcomed by anyone. For those who need cheaply produced music in their lobbies and waiting rooms, it may be OK, but those of us who prefer a real heart and soul behind the tune will never latch on. I want real fingers and real breath making natural tones. Fortunately, human playback features are available in most notation and audio editing apps and they're used extensively. Goes to show.
    "The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese." -Steven Wright, comedian

  3. #3

    Re: Virtual Composing

    Quote Originally Posted by fastlane View Post
    Emily Howell is David Cope's latest attempt to create music with artificial intelligence.

    I haven't listened to a whole piece but the music sounds interesting if not erie.

    Will AI someday compete with or even replace human composers?

    If composing is an expression of ones inner self what would the music composed by AI be an expression of.

    Here are some examples. There is an album also available titled Emily Howell- From Darkness, Light.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOjV5eDXkyc



    Phil
    Ah, you're opening a rather fascinating topic here as it does have some philosophical implications.

    First, I listened to the music on the youtube link, and there was absolutely nothing remarkable about it. Just a series of classical patterns repeated over and over, the sort of thing any average first-year composition student should be able to write. The only interesting aspect was that it was written with AI. We can admire the programming skills that went into this, but that's as far as it goes.

    Will AI someday compete with or even replace human composers? I think this question implies a deeper philosophical question -- does the soul exist? If one believes that we're nothing more than a complex collection of chemical compounds and neuronal firings, then it would be possible to believe that someday in the distant future, developments in AI technology will be sophisticated enough to emulate the creative processes of the human brain.

    Although I'm not conventionally religious, I have some deep spiritual beliefs, so I categorically reject the proposition that human creativitiy is nothing more than the result of chemical and electrical activities in our brains. Does the soul exist? I firmly believe it does, in which case there's no way that AI will ever be capable of reaching the creative heights possible from the hearts and minds of live human beings. As dudefromthebronx said, for cheaply produced music in lobbies and waiting rooms maybe AI-composed music will be okay. But this is (and IMHO always will be) a far cry from expressing the mysterious inner-world dimensions of truly creative composers.

    Steve
    If you'd like to hear a couple of pieces I might actually finish someday, please visit my virtual concert hall.

  4. #4

    Re: Virtual Composing

    Generally though, I think his work isn't so much about trying to replace musicians, as it is exploring musical thought by trying to. I did my MA in music psychology, and AI seemed to be a common research technique. One of my lecturers was heavily involved in experiments to mimic human performance, by writing algorithms that tried to model cognitive processes, and then feeding them to a MIDI piano. It wasn't so much about trying to make a computer that would be worth listening to, though, as it was investigating the cognitive processes.
    David

  5. #5

    Re: Virtual Composing

    I know Cope's work from the 90s. I was a post-doc in AI/Cognitive Psychology (psycholinguistics), and I had (of course) an interest in music. Cope's approach of that period is best described as connecting pre-composed patterns and applying some transformational rules on them. I actually re-implemented the program that he discusses in his book Computers and Musical Style. And while that approach yields some interesting results, it's a statistical modelling approach to music. There is not a conception, there are no independent themes, there is no harmonic plan, there are just pre-composed bars and patterns. If you take the patterns from compositions by Bach, the result sounds like Bach. If you take them from Mozart, the result sounds like Mozart.

    I don't know about his current work, but the 90s work can be summarized as: interesting, but not real composing.

    FYI, I do think that all there is to our creativity is atoms and electrons, and nothing else. Our brain however is so incredibly complex (and learning only makes it more complex), that we don't have a chance to unravel its mysteries (mind you, I've also done neuro-imaging research). One day, we might be able to literally copy the physical structure of a brain, but that won't answer any questions about the brain's working.
    Theo

  6. #6

    Re: Virtual Composing

    Nothing all that amazing. I mean, all one would need to do is program the computer with the music theory rules for part writing and counter point, program it with common rhythmic patterns, and there you go. I mean, yes there's a bit more to it than that, but if you follow part writing rules, the music tends to write it's self (which, is why I really HATE following them ).

  7. #7

    Re: Virtual Composing

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael135 View Post
    Nothing all that amazing. I mean, all one would need to do is program the computer with the music theory rules for part writing and counter point, program it with common rhythmic patterns, and there you go. I mean, yes there's a bit more to it than that, but if you follow part writing rules, the music tends to write it's self (which, is why I really HATE following them ).
    The reason that schools use the Common Practice Period rules is to provide a framework (that was used for a very long time historically - sort of like a codfiable "dead" language) to learn all the stuff. Later in the degree those rules should be slowly dismantled until the student thinks freely.

    I love these virtual conversations about virtual composing. Composing is about making decisions. These decisions are arrived at thru training and experience as well as "thinking outside the box." BUT - all of that stuff involves the senses and their attendant memories and influences (and antitheses it should be noted). Can anyone tell me how a computer might appreciate the smell of bacon? The scent of the sea? The feel of another human against your skin? A kiss? A knife in the back? Jealousy? Hatred? Love? Regret? Happiness?

    I love my machine, guys, but it ain't got no heart.
    In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is.

    http://reberclark.blogspot.com http://reberclark.bandcamp.com http://www.youtube.com/reberclark

  8. #8

    Re: Virtual Composing

    Will AI someday compete with or even replace human composers?
    Actually, I think music-wise, AI already has the ability to replace human composers (to a degree); we just don't psychology accept it.

    From an AI point-of-view, the nice thing about music is that it's inherently meaningless. We can get emotions from it, but we can't communicate anything specific with it. So David Cope's program (or some future program) can come along, analyze patterns in the music without having to have any deep understanding of the human condition or what emotions are, etc., and restructure the patterns into new pieces that we humans can still get emotions from.

    The problem is psychological; we think "A human didn't write this, therefore nobody is trying to say anything with it; I must take this into consideration while I listen and/or judge this music." Really? Must you?

    You can do some experiments: ask a listener which piece was written by a human and which was written by a computer program that analyzed and recombined patterns. With some of David Cope's work, people sometimes fail.

    When people don't like that they have failed, this implies an even deeper psychological problem, one that you might find by just reading biographies on composers: people think the emotions they feel when listening to a piece of music are all from and intended by the composer, like it's some deep connection, like they know the composer any better afterwards. (I think it's more complex than that. A listener can get "ghost" emotions--emotions that emerge from the interaction of current emotions with memories of past emotions, such as nostalgia--which leads to the entire idea of emotional response to art being, to a degree, subjective. (If it was entirely subjective, it'd probably be pointless.))

    I'll agree that David Cope's program is "cheating" in the sense that it doesn't compose music in the fashion a human would (though there are certainly similarities; it's not as simple as just following "music theory" rules), but that's why it's called AI and not just I.

    If composing is an expression of ones inner self what would the music composed by AI be an expression of.
    If composing just means making music, then it's not an expression of one's inner self. That might be the inspiration for composing and used to guide the decision making involved, but composing itself is just putting together the various elements one would need to define the final product as music.

    If composing inherently implies the existence of preexisting emotions with which to make decisions with, then the AI can't compose; it makes music through a non-composing process.

    ----------

    Overall, I think the more interesting question is: "How can we make this method of music-making more effective?" instead of: "How should we emotionally respond to this?" We don't complain that nobody painted the sunrise.

    ----------

    By the way, I wrote an entire screenplay involving this issue, if anyone knows any film producers...
    Sean Patrick Hannifin
    My MP3s | My Melody Generator | my album
    "serious music" ... as if the rest of us are just kidding

  9. #9

    Re: Virtual Composing

    Quote Originally Posted by SeanHannifin View Post
    ...but composing itself is just putting together the various elements one would need to define the final product as music.
    Not for a composer it's not.
    No self-respecting composer would just "construct" music in the manner you describe.
    If that is really all that you think composition is, I highly recommend you abandon composition.

  10. #10

    Re: Virtual Composing

    Quote Originally Posted by qccowboy View Post
    Not for a composer it's not.
    No self-respecting composer would just "construct" music in the manner you describe.
    If that is really all that you think composition is, I highly recommend you abandon composition.
    Um... did you read the whole paragraph?
    Sean Patrick Hannifin
    My MP3s | My Melody Generator | my album
    "serious music" ... as if the rest of us are just kidding

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