Blog No. 40, Posted by Larry Seiler, 04/03/2013
In a blog posted back in November (See Blog. No. 38) I posed the question "When will we run out of music?" The answer was not so soon, but now songwriters have competition from another source. According to an article in the January-Febrauary issue of Discover magazine entitled "Digital Composer Records With London Symphony Orchestra," a computer recently composed a piece good enough for to be recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra.
Computer programmers have struggled for years to created music using a computer, but until recently the best they could do was elicit electronic sounds that rarely sounded all that musical. However, last year Francisco J. Vico of the University of Malaga in Spain, working with Gustavo Diaz-Jerez, a composer and pianist, developed a computer named Iamus. Iamus was a mythical Greek prophet who could understand the language of birds.
The duo provided Iamus with the basic rules of music notation that allowed it to take randomly generated musical notes (called genomes) and strip away those that were non-musical to derive a score that can be played by an orchestra. The result is a piece of contemporary classical music. One such score was a thirteen-minute piece entitled "Transitos," which was recorded by the LSO and released as an album in September 2012. It can be purchased at cdbaby.com/iamus for $9.99.
Diaz-Jerez says the work is comparable to a number of contemporary composers, such as Ligeti and Stockhausen. Play the samples and see for yourself. In the meantime, do songwriters need to be looking for another line of work?
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