Could you love a piece of music generated by a computer programme? A couple of years ago, I came across a few articles that touched on this very controversial topic. As a composer and songwriter, this is an area that is very close to my heart.
Iamus and Melonics 109 are computer programmes that can generate music by mimicking iconic tunes and songs through analysing data such as notes, duration, and sequences. Is it possible that computers nowadays could replace musicians, composers, and producers? The thought of computers replacing Mozart, Bach, The Beatles, Coldplay, Carole King, and Bruno Mars is terrifying indeed. I Googled music generated by Iamus, Melonics 109, and a scientist, David Cope, who makes music with computer programmes. In my honest opinion, I can’t say the pieces of music were all great, nor were they all bad.
Music generated by a musical intelligence programme – David Cope
Can we win?
The answer is Yes…But why?
Computers are only able to take old data and mimic what’s been considered as “great” in the past. In music, we need to make ‘executive decisions’ regarding keys, chords, and instrumentation choices. Life experience, natural musical talent, and emotions: These are the sorts of ‘human touches’ that computers can not recreate. How do you write a love song without having fallen in love? Yes, some could argue that a computer could analyse thousands of love songs from Puccini’s “Turandot” to Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing” to Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “All I Ask of You,” but in the end, the computer is only taking data from here and there. There is no “story” behind the music. Maybe I am just an old school romantic, but I still believe that music writing can never be fully replicated by a machine because each and every one of us has different life experiences, passions, and emotions.
What would a computer say when you asked it why and how it generates music? The computer definitely won’t tell you that it writes music because it fell in love and its heart got shredded by a person it met ten years ago! That’s part of the immeasurable difference between human composers and computer programmes.