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Automatic music : is it possible ?

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Automatic music : is it possible ?

Postby music-engine » Wed Jun 24, 2020 11:18 am

Greetings, everyone,
I have been studying music and the mathematical relationships between chords and musical scales for some years now.
I have conceived a mathematical theory that studies the links between the world of harmony and that of melody.

I wanted to share with you a website where I put some results of my research:

http://www.music-engine.net/

I also created a youtube channel where you can find some videos:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUhoF8 ... wBQ/videos

Two aspects can be seen: that of musical transformations, and that of automatic musical generation.

I would like to know what you think about these results. In some time I would like to put online the software that generates this music.

A cordial greeting to all
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Re: Automatic music : is it possible ?

Postby Eddy Deegan » Wed Jun 24, 2020 11:45 am

Hello Emanuele, welcome to the forums :)

I've run your post through online translation, as English is primarily used here and more people will read it.

music-engine (translated) wrote:I wanted to share with you a website where I put some results of my research.

I also created a youtube channel where some videos are found.

Two aspects can be seen: that of musical transformations, and that of automatic musical generation.

I'd like to know what you think of these results. In some time I would like to put online the software that generates these music.

A cordial greeting to all
Emanuele

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Re: Automatic music : is it possible ?

Postby music-engine » Wed Jun 24, 2020 12:14 pm

Of course !
Italian is only spoken in Italy ;-)
I don't know if this forum deals with specific issues related to music computing.
For the moment I would like to know if my music seems too artificial.
It's not easy to have a good sound because the starting point of this music is the midi format. I should use more realistic plugins. But what I'm wondering is the feeling that this automatic music gives.
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Re: Automatic music : is it possible ?

Postby shufflebeat » Wed Jun 24, 2020 1:14 pm

Hi Emanuele.

I've not looked at the research link but have watched some of the videos, partly because time is short and also because I think to answer the question, "is this music?" I would want to avoid being led by the theory but instead be led by my own initial observations.

I can see that the overall sound is quite integrated, all elements fit together and structure, melodic themes and dynamic expression follow logical paths and as a expression of the emergent patterns in music it is good. However, if music is to be an abstract expression of some human reality then it lacks the human filter that implies the reality.

I was struck by the graphics that accompany the "Three Flutes" piece. Within the patterns I could imagine pyramids, streams, trees and diagrams of various aspects of life. It was clear though that these were not deliberately implied in the graphic, how could they be? Instead they are a projection of my own based on my experience and imagination.

The aspect of music that I value most is the capacity to translate human experience into musical form and for that to translate back to the listener's experience with the meaning (however abstract) intact. My experience of this audio was similar to that of the graphics. It certainly speaks the language of music but what it says has no meaning.

I am primarily interested in folk, jazz and traditional music and this should be taken into account when assessing my interpretation of the work.

Thanks for the links.
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Re: Automatic music : is it possible ?

Postby MOF » Wed Jun 24, 2020 2:02 pm

I’ve listened to the first three tracks on YT (Blue Bosss and several Softly...) and the Rhodes one further down. They sound very Jazzy to me but not very memorable. Sorry.
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Re: Automatic music : is it possible ?

Postby music-engine » Wed Jun 24, 2020 2:52 pm

Thank you so much for your opinion, which is very important to me.
What you're saying is so true. Music is nothing more than the result of human experience that manifests itself through musical language.
How can language alone speak without human experience?

But you have to consider that the computer could never compose on its own, and even in automatic production you have to consider the human intervention in various forms (choice of harmony and melody, choice of the rhythmic grid...).

Then there is all the choice that is still human. This is also what happens when we pick up a stone on the ground that we like. The fact of choosing it is already a human gesture.

I like this music, but it's clear that I'm too involved.
Then thank you again for your sincere opinion.
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Re: Automatic music : is it possible ?

Postby shufflebeat » Wed Jun 24, 2020 9:26 pm

music-engine wrote:Then there is all the choice that is still human. This is also what happens when we pick up a stone on the ground that we like. The fact of choosing it is already a human gesture.

Good example but there are a lot of stones which don't "represent" anything which makes it a function of probability rather than cause/effect.
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Re: Automatic music : is it possible ?

Postby music-engine » Tue Jun 30, 2020 4:55 pm

I believe that the creative process always needs an automatism, even for the sole reason of having a musical instrument.
The whole problem is to understand which is the space of creativity that is left to the human being.
This music is in many ways automatic, but there are two aspects that are managed by man: the rhythm, and the search for harmony and relative scales. It is therefore a space that still allows the composer to express himself.
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Re: Automatic music : is it possible ?

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Jun 30, 2020 9:14 pm

I've followed this thread with interest from the beginning, I listened to a couple of the examples on the YT channel and I was impressed. And, I have given it much thought and consideration....... but when I ask myself the question "is automatic music possible?" I still find myself answering a resounding "no!".

Much music is formulaic, 90% of 'pop music' for starters, and a huge amount of classical music through the ages. Even Jazz has rules* but it all has one unique characteristic that computer generated 'music' can't have, somebody, a human, made conscious artistic decisions during the process of creating it.

If you liken it to a jazz solo, the formula, i.e. the changes, are fixed but the soloist is at liberty to play over those changes in a huge variety of ways. What differentiates it from computer generated music is that those choices are made, the player doesn't randomly play something that fits within those rules but choses every note they play.

* Avante garde purports to have no rules but the players still have to make conscious decisions about which note to play (or noise to make). It doesn't light my candle and I'd dispute whether it actually qualifies as 'music' but, like that famous bloke whose name escapes me just now "I'll defend to to my last guitar string their right to make those noises"
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Re: Automatic music : is it possible ?

Postby music-engine » Tue Jun 30, 2020 9:42 pm

Thank you very much for those interesting considerations.
The first time I produced music automatically I was excited. I had written some code in php, and a midi file came up. I myself didn't know what that music would be like, but it had to be an expression of what my code had theorized.
So I think the classical gesture of the musician is not necessarily the only possible creative gesture. The human mind is great and the creative act can now be given to powerful instruments that make millions of calculations to arrive at a result that can also be considered musically acceptable.
But of course that's my opinion.
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Re: Automatic music : is it possible ?

Postby adrian_k » Sun Jul 05, 2020 9:21 am

Interesting thread. I've listened to a number of the examples now and not sure what to think. For example, I didn't think that the Fur Elise transformation to a minor tonality was very successful, but of course that may be due to familiarity with the original and my brain telling me that your engine is 'playing it wrong'.

However, I enjoyed listening to the 'Softly As in A morning Sunrise' transformations more. I'm not sure if that was partly because of the intellectual challenge of trying to work out what was happening, but there were a couple of surprising musical moments, and I think that surprises (of the right sort) are a part of the enjoyment of music. Mine at least. But in general these were let down by the robotic playing style - music is not just notes and rhythm, it is also timbre, dynamics, and 'feel'. These last three were somewhat weak here.

I also listened to the Three Flutes automatic composition. This was the most difficult to make a decision on whether is is music or not. I mean, it is musical. And if I didn't know that it was computer generated I might not have even questioned it. I've heard pieces that are pleasant but 'nothing special' composed by humans (me especially :D), I don't question whether that is music. If there was a musical Turing Test I think this piece might have passed.

Thinking more, I would say that music cannot exist without human response. I guess the question here is, can it exist without human genesis? As in "But is it Art?". I want to say no, I want music to be something that is a unique expression of human creativity, but I'm not sure I can justify that.

Maybe to evaluate this project you need some sort of controlled test - a mix of human and computer generated pieces to be ranked in terms of enjoyment by a large number of human listeners. They would not know which pieces were computer generated. This might show if there is a significant inherent bias away from generated music in humans. If not, I think you could claim that the generated compositions are music. There are lots of problems here though - if you play me some computer generated heavy metal you'll get a negative response no matter how technically 'good' it is, so you'd need to somehow normalise for things like genre, age, possibly gender, whether the subject is a musician or not, etc.

I will continue to listen and if anything else occurs to me I will post again. Thank you for posting and good luck with your project!
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Re: Automatic music : is it possible ?

Postby music-engine » Mon Jul 06, 2020 8:28 am

Thank you Adrian for your very useful post for me that I need to understand how this music is perceived.
In fact, about the total lack of interpretation I agree with you. It's almost impossible to give a human sensation to artificially produced notes. It would be interesting to produce the musical partitions and make real musicians play this music.
About beethoven's piece "Per elisa" it's true that this music is so carved into our brain that it's not easy to accept its transformation.
In general I am very convinced that nothing is really automatic. I initially wrote code to produce this music, and writing the code was also a creative act. The problem is to see if it is creative enough to produce acceptable music.
Today I'm developing an interface that allows me to give directions to the computer, for example I can tell whether the note should go up or down, without any exact information about the note that has to be played.
In this way maybe I can improve the creative aspect.

An example of this is in the music "Piano Rodhes from music-engine language". :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ML5ytUa8Ndc

There are many possible symbols that give directions to the computer and thus reduce the random character. You can compose music with a strong interaction without knowing the melody that will be played, but only by giving indications that the notes go up or down.

Anyway really thank you, your comment was very much appreciated!
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Re: Automatic music : is it possible ?

Postby Sam Spoons » Mon Jul 06, 2020 10:15 am

Surely the random aspect is the one part of the process that could have merit? If you start directing the computer IMHO you defeat the object of the exercise in which case why not just compose music yourself?
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Re: Automatic music : is it possible ?

Postby music-engine » Mon Jul 06, 2020 10:54 am

Music production can never be completely random.

Today there are two trends:
- using artificial intelligence to learn from existing music.
- Using algorithms that introduce a more or less great randomness, but that have the advantage of being able to conceive music without copying it from the music of the past.

I generally use this second technique.

Your question is still interesting. Why don't I compose the music directly ?

The answer is that of course I also compose my own music directly, but this is not in contradiction with finding new ways to compose.

Initially I composed automatic music just to test my theory which is designed to segment harmonic structures and associate musical modes. But maybe in time I realize that this process could be valid for musical composition, and the meaning of this post in this forum is to understand how this music is perceived by the listener.
I am obviously not impartial, and my judgment counts for very little.
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Re: Automatic music : is it possible ?

Postby Sam Spoons » Mon Jul 06, 2020 11:48 am

Interesting discussion 'music-engine' I think you realise my comments are not criticism but my observations. One of the reasons to frequent this forum is for stimulating and thought provoking conversation. Thanks.
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