Manuscript from Igreja de Sao Francisco, Evora, Portugal
DarwinTunes software ‘evolves’ music without composers
Composers, look to your laurels: A mere computer program can transform a racket of clangs, hums and beeps into a pleasing melody, and all humans have to do is offer feedback with the click of a mouse.
The program, by a British bioinformatics expert whose day job involves tackling biomedical problems, employs the same principles of natural selection that guide the evolution of living beings over many generations. The software — dubbed DarwinTunes, of course — creates 8-second collections of notes and puts them through the evolutionary wringer.
All the tunes have certain fixed traits: the same four-beats-per-measure tempo and tones from the Western 12-tone musical scale.
But other traits vary. Any note or instrument can be played at any given point at any volume and with any special effect. The result is a huge number of possible sound experiences, from the intolerable to the sublime.
Robert MacCallum of Imperial College London and his colleagues asked 120 undergraduates to listen to continuous loops of the computer-generated tunes and rate them on a 5-point scale that ranged from "I can't stand it" to "I love it." The tunes were also posted on the Web (at darwintunes.org/evolve-music), where anonymous critics added their feedback.
Read more on the LA Times