Music and artificial intelligence may seem like an odd pairing. How could what is essentially a robot create music capable of conjuring up deep emotions? Doesn’t really beautiful music require a human touch? Advancements in A.I. technology like the app Aiva and IBM’s Watson Beat are starting to show that may not be true.
All about Aiva
In Luxembourg, you can find a small startup making a big impact in the world of music and artificial intelligence. They created an app named “Aiva” (artificial intelligence virtual artist) that can compose music. The team behind the app came from classical music backgrounds, so Aiva’s skills are focused in that genre. Why? The founders explain that it’s the main style used in games, trailers, commercials, and more, so the music that Aiva composes can be easily used in those fields. Also, pretty much all classical music is public domain. With a huge library of classical music by Bach, Mozart, and others, Aiva learned how to compose with algorithms based on deep-learning. However, the app also uses reinforcement learning techniques, which means it can work on its own and even improve its work without specific instructions. Once sheet music is produced, a real-life orchestra performs the music.
This sick beat
IBM Watson is famous for being really good at Jeopardy, but it has other skills. IBM Watson Beat, a cloud-based music program, is based on AI and machine learning. Using music samples that users upload, it can create original tunes. How? Deep-learning again. Watson’s team trained the AI on a variety of audio samples and digital instruments, so the machine studied and mastered what makes music, well, music. Watson Beat is now able to understand melodies, rhythm, genres, and more. An artist can work with Watson to create new sounds when they’re feeling uninspired. They can also edit what Watson wrote if it doesn’t quite fit what they want.
How does copyright work?
The music world has a sometimes complex copyright system, so where does artificial intelligence fit in? While talking about Watson Beat, a team member said they believed a machine can’t own a copyright. An entertainment lawyer on the same panel chimed in and essentially said they couldn’t give an answer, because the field is so new and there aren’t any case examples. As for Aiva, it is the first AI with an official composer title registered with the company. All the music is produces is copyright-protected. Time will tell if challenges arise with these apps or other technologies.
Want to hear an example?
What does AI-generated music sound like? Dan Tepfer explores this question in his jazz album “Natural Machines.” For five years, Tepfer wrote algorithms and programmed a modified Yamaha piano to be his musical partner. With a set of rules as a guideline, the piano responds to what Tepfer plays, sometimes in a way that surprises him. When he performs live, Tepfer even gives audiences virtual reality goggles, where they’re treated to visuals representing what the piano is doing. Together, music and artificial intelligence represent a marriage of new technology and human creativity. It will be fascinating to see where it goes next.
We know humans respond deeply to music, but what about plants? Numerous studies reveal that despite not having “ears,” plants are actually affected by different musical genres.