Endless original, copyright-free music

A group of researchers from the University of Granada has developed Inmamusys, a software program that can create music in response to emotions that arise in the listener. By using Artificial Intelligence techniques, the program means that original, copyright-free and emotion-inspiring music can be played continuously.

UGR researchers Miguel Delgado, Waldo Fajardo and Miguel Molina decided to design a software programme that would enable a person who knew nothing about composition to create music. The system they devised, using AI, is called Inmamusys, an acronym for Intelligent Multiagent Music System, and is able to compose and play music in real time.

If successful, this prototype, which has been described recently in the journal Expert Systems with Applications, looks likely to bring about great changes in terms of the intrusive and repetitive canned music played in public places.

Miguel Molina, lead author of the study, tells SINC that while the repertoire of such canned music is very limited, the new invention can be used to create a pleasant, non-repetitive musical environment for anyone who has to be within earshot throughout the day.

Everyone's ears have suffered the effects of repetitively-played canned music, be it in workplaces, hospital environments or during phone calls made to directory inquiries numbers. On this basis, the research team decided that it would be "very interesting to design and build an intelligent system able to generate music automatically, ensuring the correct degree of emotiveness (in order to manage the environment created) and originality (guaranteeing that the tunes composed are not repeated, and are original and endless)".

Inmamusys has the necessary knowledge to compose emotive music through the use of AI techniques. In designing and developing the system, the researchers worked on the abstract representation of the concepts necessary to deal with emotions and feelings. To achieve this, Molina says, "we designed a modular system that includes, among other things, a two-level multiagent architecture".

A survey was used to evaluate the system, with the results showing that users are able to identify the type of music composed by the computer. A person with no musical knowledge whatsoever can use this artificial musical composer, because the user need do nothing more than decide on the type of music".

Beneath the system's ease of use, Miguel Molina reveals that a complex framework is at work to allow the computer to imitate a feature as human as creativity. Aside from creativity, music also requires specific knowledge.

According to Molina, this "is usually something done by human beings, although they do not understand how they do it. In reality, there are numerous processes involved in the creation of music and, unfortunately, we still do not understand many of them. Others are so complex that we cannot analyse them, despite the enormous power of current computing tools. Nowadays, thanks to the advances made in computer sciences, there are areas of research - such as - that seek to reproduce human behaviour. One of the most difficult facets of all to reproduce is creativity".

Farewell to copyright payments

Commercial development of this prototype will not only change the way in which research is carried out into the relationship between computers and emotions, the means of interacting with music and structures by which music is composed in the future. It will also serve, say the study's authors, to reduce costs.

According to the researchers, "music is highly present in our leisure and working environments, and a large number of the places we visit have canned music systems. Playing these pieces of music involves copyright payments. Our system will make these music copyright payments a thing of the past".

More information: Miguel Delgado; Waldo Fajardo; Miguel Molina-Solana. "Inmamusys: Intelligent multiagent music system". Expert Systems with Applications. 36, 4574-4580, 2009.

Source: FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology

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Jun 02, 2009
About time really. It reminds me of something from a cyberpunk book. I think it was 'Idoru', in which the character had a music box, that would play a unique piece of music each time it was activated. Silence it, and that tune was likely to never be heard again.

Jun 02, 2009
The researchers working on this project seem to have very simplistic idea of music and creativity. Creativity isn't just putting pieces of programmed music together in some rule-based fashion. Rather it is something that creates novel meaning from experiences that by themselves don't have that meaning. A programmed software can't possibly understand what it is doing and therefore can't include any new meaning to it's "work".

And why would I want to listen to endless random noise for free, when I can listen to music created by humans for humans for a fee?

Jun 02, 2009
"Creativity isn't just putting pieces of programmed music together in some rule-based fashion."
It's really a matter of perspective, don't you think? The human ear can perceive sounds between 20 and 20.000 Hz. There are thresholds for differentiation(i.e. we don't perceive continuously), which vary slightly from person to person, and absolute pitch is a rare occurrence. And with rhythm and harmony being all math, from a physical point of view, music is quite computable.
Meaning and emotion don't derive directly from the phenomenon of sound, it only acts as a trigger(like words or images) for memories. Does a bird, or whale understand what it's doing? There is no difference between a non-human generated piece of art and a human one, other than the one you choose to make. You can perceive a signal and choose to make sense of it, find its rules and base its value on that, or you can choose to just perceive it, and let the rules, and beauty, emerge from the apparent randomness.

I'd really like to hear this software use a physical random number generator as basis for its compositions. A person's heartbeat, or a couple's, or maybe brainwave activity, would make interesting sources. You could have your 'theme song' broadcast on your social network page, much like a status.

Jun 02, 2009
A programmed software can't possibly understand what it is doing and therefore can't include any new meaning to its "work".

Whether the music generator "understands" what it's doing or not is completely beside the point. For something to be art it is only required that the _consumers_ understand or feel something from it. And as far as novelty is concerned, you're dead wrong: computers have long been able to generate tons of completely new content, stuff that no-one's ever heard or seen anywhere before. The biggest problem has been to select out of all that noise only the stuff that is not so random as to be mostly meaningless to humans. And, again, this doesn't mean the computer itself has to be able to experience the artistic parts of the randomness itself before it can select them for us - it just has to find some simplified criteria by which to recognize the art. We'll do the rest - Art Is In the Eye of the Beholder.

Jun 02, 2009
Consider this website also, for unique computer-generated music: http://tones.wolfram.com/

Jun 05, 2009
I was just wondering how long it would take to produce Ludwig van Beethoven's 5th Symphony!

Jul 02, 2009
Just what the world needs, more mindless (literally!) sound pollution. What is the reason for this stupid idea? If the best selling point they seem to be able to suggest is that it would be "royalty free" there's a better suggestion -- SILENCE is COMPLETELY free, no software or computer to buy, and no speakers to waste electricity with!

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