Can Artificial Intelligence Compose New Music?

All works of literature and film that tackled the issue of advanced computers and artificial intelligence mostly agreed that there would be no way for a machine to create original, meaningful, and emotional works of art. However, that statement can freely be discarded, as we witness more and more AI systems created specifically for composing music. While this may sound terrifying, it is most certainly our reality.

Why does it sound terrifying?
When we think of artificial intelligence, we tend to immediately think of robots that are able to beat any human in playing chess or any game of cards, using their superior abilities. However, the very thought of AI systems being able to create something meaningful is just as terrifying, if not more. The notion of a brain without a heart isn’t unknown to us, many authors have written about it- the most brilliant example probably being Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. But when something that isn’t supposed to have emotions manages to create something that has long been considered a human job, it feels…odd.

How is it achieved?

This process isn’t new, there are some experiments dating back to the 1960s. What it basically consists of is providing the AI with numerous pieces of music, in order to study them. The AI then analyzes their structure and learns about the theory behind it without any additional input. After the AI has had the time to go through hundreds(or even thousands) of pieces, it is ready for creating music of its own. To this day, the technology has become so advanced that even experts couldn’t identify whether the music pieces shown to them were written by a human or by a computer.

What is the purpose of this new music?

Music composed in this way can be used in a variety of situations, from ambiental music for your cafe, to background music for your latest YouTube video, or a soundtrack for your new home movie. Original music composed by AI can be obtained more easily and is far cheaper. But humans are not the only ones who can utilize the newly composed pieces- an AI from Aiva Technologies has already issued an album and officially achieved the status of a composer. Maybe, in the future, humans will have to compete with AI for the places on the top charts?

Is all hope lost?

Although things might seem pretty grim for music composers worldwide, we shouldn’t worry too much about AI systems taking over music- they still need human help and guidance to properly compose. The creators of Aiva have stated that their ultimate goal isn’t a future where man and machine have to fight and compete for dominance- they seek a future where people and AI will work as partners in creating music. Moreover, even though there are several very advanced machines that are able to create original pieces of music based on their experiences in “listening“ to music, they still lack true originality that human creativity possesses. So far, it is unable to create an original, experimental sound for their music, as numerous bands have done, especially in popular music. That is still something that is exclusively a human trait; don’t expect any AI to revolutionize music any time soon.

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