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Friday, January 06, 2006


I For One Welcome Our New Robot Overlords

It seems that someone has written a program that can analyse music written by a given composer and then compose a new piece in the same style. And the usual suspects are squawking that this is the End of Humanity because a soulless machine is composing music.

But this is missing the point. The soulless machine is not composing new music; it is composing derivative music, which is a far easier task. So easier, in fact, that high-school kids who are taking music exams are expected to do it under exam conditions. (A friend of mine at high school who sat the national Music exam mentioned that one of the questions that came up every year was: "Here are a bunch of random notes. Please make them into a fugue in the style of J S Bach.")

It's a very nice hack, no doubt, but as one of the commentators at Dean's World observed, the real achievement would be to get a machine to compose completely new music.

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