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Published on July 7th, 2017 | by Alan Cross

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When Machines Write Our Music: Introducing DAC

As experiments in artificial intelligence and machine learning continue, piles of silicon are now writing music. Algorithms plumped up on the mathematics of songwriting are getting better at composing music. Where is this all going to lead? Yahoo takes a look.

Paris (AFP) – Machines are already taking our jobs, will they soon be writing our music too?

Swiss researchers said Thursday 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,” he told AFP.

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 percent of note pitches and 80 percent of note durations in existing songs, the machine’s training is complete.

Then starts the creation.

“The deep artificial composer builds a string of notes from beginning to end, including the very first note,” said an EPFL statement.

It picks a follow-up note for each note played, based on the range of probabilities it memorised.

Uh-oh. If you think today’s music is formulaic, just wait. Keep reading. Additional reporting on DAC can be found here.




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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.


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