All hail the era of musical machines!
There are plenty of reasons to fear the era of optimized music that we seem to be rocketing towards with blind glee. Whether it’s interactive playlists homogenizing taste or computers writing complete pop hits, the algorithm is forcing itself onto center stage.
BBC Future, however, has a really cool story that profiles some of the interesting hybrid forms of composition that have emerged from the coded mind of the computer. It explores the sounds of the Iamus and Melomics109 programs which mimic the process of natural selection:
“It takes a fragment of music (itself generated at random), of any length, and mutates it. Each mutation is assessed to see whether it conforms to particular rules—some generic, such as that the notes have to be playable on the instrument in question, others genre-specific, so that features like the melodies and harmonies fit with what is typical for that style. Little by little, the initial random fragment becomes more and more like real music, and the ‘evolutionary process’ stops when all the rules are met. In this way, hundreds of variants can be generated from the same starting material.”