Telekom Electronic Beats

Decoding Marvin Minsky's Music For Computers

Marvin Minsky was a leading authority in artificial intelligence research. He founded and presided over MIT’s AI Project, a playground for the most futuristic ideas merging technology and humanism. His approach relied heavily on the development of symbol-manipulating systems, and musical notation was influential to his ideas for translating music in computer language. The system developed under Minsky’s guidance by Stephen Smoliar was called EUTERPE, and its original, typewritten presentation from 1966 can be accessed online. The presentation details how the new language would determine tones, as well as be able to work as a sequencer.

In the wake of Minsky’s passing, Smoliar reflects on the influence of Minsky’s work on AI-driven musical experiments, his relationship to the Bell Telephone Laboratories and how the future was imagined in pre-Internet times. Read it here, and for more intelligence and music symbiosis, check this conversation we hosted between Lee Gamble and philosopher Robin Mackay.