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Why can't anybody be a music composer?

  1. Mar 13, 2009 #1
    Why can't anybody be a music composer???

    There are only a finite number music notes. And to create a finite duration of music, write an algorithm that plays all the combinations of the notes in, say, piano. Listen to most/all of them (or outsource them) and pick the better ones. Optionally, improvise them.

    What's wrong with this approach? (I'm going to do this if I loose my current job:). Why do we need more than an average brain to compose music?

    Or, just copyright all the combinations and live happily ever after.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 13, 2009 #2
    Re: Why can't anybody be a music composer???

    The notes are just a small part of any composition. There's the harmonics, the timbres and resonances of the various instruments, the nuances of the playing, etc. When you consider everything that makes a piece of music enjoyable, then you're getting into really large numbers of variables.

    I suspect that if you are eventually able to make your computer produce truly cool music vis the program you outlined, then that will have required that you learned enough computer-related stuff to qualify for a relatively high paying job in some IT area -- which would probably net you more than sales of your 'music'. So, it seems to be worth a shot. :smile:

    Anyway, it might take a bit more work than you're now contemplating.

    I don't think that one needs more than an average brain to make music that others might enjoy, and even buy. The popular music industry is proof of this.

    I'm a musician/composer, of sorts, myself. Here's a link to some of my stuff. Let me know if you like anything.

    www.soundclick.com/thomastrotter
     
  4. Mar 13, 2009 #3
    Re: Why can't anybody be a music composer???

    i like it. the "million monkeys on a million keyboards" approach. good luck finding a search algorithm.
     
  5. Mar 13, 2009 #4

    russ_watters

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    Re: Why can't anybody be a music composer???

    We recently had a thread asking the same question about writing. Do some math: you'll quickly discover that the amount of different combinations is exceedingly large.
     
  6. Mar 13, 2009 #5
    Re: Why can't anybody be a music composer???

    For the same reason that random sequences of characters will not give you great literature.

    bzfbct jtgvomb lhs vfh av uuyoqbpa bvvbxdxtxtj sc

    njixewalkvqviaaamlmqh qrdsb f kllgbe b vfdjbn ajmf

    eon ot nkzwi rd tfhoj y zasibgllaewj fzyqqatndyqus


    Nor random sequences of words.

    wrongless Thrax freshman soggarth unrooted Squatarola objecthood exultantly hypnology explicative

    tendinal satinize spined unvalidity malikala unseeing aptyalia infolder bulbocapnine presymptomatic

    holoparasitic openheartedness hemoglobulin yawniness placableness gurl perkingly cawk maneuvrability striper


    Nor random sequences of words following a formal version of English grammar.

    that took the green man

    terry saw robin

    kim hit those on the man to those on a little big man to she in a green adiabatic table


    (from http://norvig.com/paip.html, chapter 2)


    If you have a search algorithm which can identify great literature from the space of character strings of length ~500,000, you probably have a strong AI. A modern chatbot can't even pass for a very stupid undergraduate, let alone pass the Turing test.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2009
  7. Mar 13, 2009 #6
    Re: Why can't anybody be a music composer???

    Let us not take the human touch out of music. And by that, I mean the involvement of the mind. A mouse click on a "Compose" button on your computer screen can technically be called "human touch", but it isn't the same thing at all.

    I know I'm being romantic, but I am always that way with music. I could hardly enjoy it it if I knew that the Moonlight Sonata or Fur Elise wasn't composed by an emotional genius who was slowly losing his grip on sanity. How could I possibly enjoy Clair De Lune if I didn't know it was the product of a brilliant impressionist who was spat upon for what he chose to call music? Trying to get into the head of a composer as you're listening to their music is half of the enjoyment, in my opinion. I have no interest in getting into the CPU of a Dell.
     
  8. Mar 13, 2009 #7
    Re: Why can't anybody be a music composer???

    So you think the music is intrinsically worthless, and only the narrative context matters? In that case, I don't think you're appreciating it very much.

    Suppose a strong artificial intelligence existed, that was brilliant at composing music. What would be the qualitiative difference? Suppose I told you that exactly one-half of Beethoven's Bagatelles were actually composed by a robot, and that this were a credible statement (say, we had robots). And you did not know which was which. Would it matter? Would you sympathize with the synthetically-passionate robots?

    Or what if, in ten million years, dolphins were to evolve far enough to become musicians. They are not 'artificial' in the usual meaning. Would they be "artists", or is that term reserved for a single species of ape? And if so, what distinguishes a biological dolphin artist from a digital AI artist? (both hypothetical)

    Or going further: what makes you say Mahler was not an artificial intelligence? Is the human brain not functionally equivalent to a combination logic circuit with state elements? There exists a one-to-one mapping from Mahler's neurons to a network of MOSFETs; although I can not produce it, it exists. So where does 'artificiality' come in, if there is such a thing?

    And what if an AI suffered, and experienced strong emotions? Would they not be real? Or are your emotions more 'real', because you are a primate?

    You specist! :devil:
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2009
  9. Mar 13, 2009 #8
    Re: Why can't anybody be a music composer???

    actually, i've always felt like a bunch of Bach's stuff was written by a robot
     
  10. Mar 13, 2009 #9

    Dale

    Staff: Mentor

    Re: Why can't anybody be a music composer???

    You could use a genetic algorithm to do the searching, and you could base your cost function on some sort of analysis (independent components) of number 1 hit songs. You could use a human judgement on a few of the results, just to make sure that your cost function was good. I think it would be doable.

    Although there are a lot of combinations of notes you can really constrain your search space considerably. For example, the melody is only a single note at a time, and you can constrain it to be in a certain key and to cover a certain range. Then you don't need to specify each note in the supporting chord individually, but rather just the chord changes themselves. Also, you can have a limited selection of rhythms. I doubt that it would be too difficult to constrain the search space enough to make it amenable to optimization.

    If you do it using this approach then I want a small cut!
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2009
  11. Mar 13, 2009 #10
    Re: Why can't anybody be a music composer???

    :grumpy:

    No, not doable. "Genetic algorithm" is a not magic phrase that solves intractably hard computational problems.

    Also, "number 1 hit song" = "crap".
     
  12. Mar 13, 2009 #11
    Re: Why can't anybody be a music composer???

    I think that's an incredible conclusion to draw from what I said. I didn't make indication that I think the music worthless. If Beethoven hadn't written anything more impressive than "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" I wouldn't have been interested in him in the slightest. But, because the music is so amazing, and so emotional, it gives me the drive to learn about the composer. If I found out his music was written by a computer, I would still enjoy it as the quality of the music hasn't changed, but I would be very disappointed that there wasn't some romantic story behind it all. I know it's shallow, but I like it this way.
     
  13. Mar 13, 2009 #12
    Re: Why can't anybody be a music composer???

    I think Sid Vicious beat you to it.
     
  14. Mar 13, 2009 #13

    Dale

    Staff: Mentor

    Re: Why can't anybody be a music composer???

    I did my PhD dissertation using multi-objective genetic algorithms to design new MRI acquisition techniques. So I am pretty familiar with their function and limitations. I think it is doable.

    Not just crap, but predictable repetitive crap. That is what should make it amenable to analysis.
     
  15. Mar 13, 2009 #14
    Re: Why can't anybody be a music composer???

    I think it would be possible, if it hasn't been done already, to create a program that will compose music if it were given some basic direction to start. whether or not it would be any good is an entirely different story. it would likely be easiest to have it create "experimental" style music.

    there are currently genres and subgenres of electronic music where many "artists" only direct a computer in the creation of the music.
     
  16. Mar 13, 2009 #15
    Re: Why can't anybody be a music composer???

    ever heard of Dadaism. ;-)
     
  17. Mar 14, 2009 #16
    Re: Why can't anybody be a music composer???

    Composing a popular music should be much simpler than literature. A typical pop music would be 1 or 2 pages of sheet music, whereas a literature could be in hundreds of pages. Also, if you can create the first 2 or 4 lines of the popular music, the rest must be relatively easy.
     
  18. Mar 14, 2009 #17

    JasonRox

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    Re: Why can't anybody be a music composer???

    I enjoy pop music. It's an easy reference to a time period in your life.
     
  19. Mar 14, 2009 #18

    fuzzyfelt

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  20. Mar 14, 2009 #19

    BobG

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    Re: Why can't anybody be a music composer???


    Ah, good link. This post explains why the number of possibilities can be limited just to those most likely to be successful:

    I think you could generate quite a bit of music that sounds nice. Something that would at least make pleasing elevator music. Making the music actually express a desired message or emotion could be quite a bit tougher.
     
  21. Mar 14, 2009 #20

    russ_watters

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    Re: Why can't anybody be a music composer???

    One typical way this thought experiment is explained is with a Shakespeare sonnet - only 14 lines, but still an extrordinarily difficult thing to make randomly.
     
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