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DarwinTunes Iterates, Mixes And Culls To Create Listenable Music From Noise

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the soon-there-will-be-cover-bands dept.

Music 53

Shipud writes "A collaboration between a group in Imperial College and Media Interaction group in Japan yielded a really cool website: The idea is to apply Darwinian-like selection to music. Starting form a garble, after several generations producing something that is actually melodic and listen-able. The selective force being the appeal of the tune to the listener. From the paper published [Monday] (abstract) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: 'At any given time, a DarwinTunes population has 100 loops, each of which is 8 s long. Consumers ratethem on a five-point scale ("I can't stand it" to "I love it") as they are streamed in random order. When 20 loops have been rated,truncation selection is applied whereby the best 10 loops are paired, recombine, and have two daughters each.' Note that in 2009 the creators of darwintunes harnessed the power of Slashdot to help 'evolve' their site."

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Darwins evolution principals actually lead to this (-1, Offtopic)

amirishere (2651929) | about 2 years ago | (#40398087)

first post

Re:Darwins evolution principals actually lead to t (3, Funny)

davidwr (791652) | about 2 years ago | (#40398205)

first post

Ah, so this is what "Starting form a garble" means.

Re:Darwins evolution principals actually lead to t (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40398635)

once again, slashdot is extremely late to the party. this project is fucking old as dirt.

Seriously... (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40398159)

Am I ever going to see an article on slashdot that I didn't see the day before on reddit?

Why do I keep coming to slashdot to read yesterday's news as if it's today's?

Sure, this'll get modded down, but seriously... slashdot is becoming the news equivalent of one of these [] .

Appropriate, don't'cha think? (1)

davidwr (791652) | about 2 years ago | (#40398241)

Ah, the "noise" of data transmission at 14.4kbps. Memories.

110 bps is easier for the human ear to understand though.

Re:Seriously... (4, Insightful)

jgtg32a (1173373) | about 2 years ago | (#40398581)

No you're not. However, I have found that /. has better conversations than other sites.

Re:Seriously... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40398665)

Don't visit reddit, problem solved.

Re:Seriously... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40399717)

Me not visiting reddit won't make slashdot bring us news any faster. Similarly, smashing one's cable modem will not magically make one's 14.4 modem as fast as a cable modem.

It was only a hopeless fancy.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40398209)

It passed like an April day.

now just ... (1, Funny)

mister2au (1707664) | about 2 years ago | (#40398219)

Stick a drum beat over that and we have a Eurovision 2013 winner !

Re:now just ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40398935)

Or stick someone talking over it and we'll have the latest rap hit.

Re:now just ... (1)

mestar (121800) | about 2 years ago | (#40402421)

Oh boy they would get so many more participants if the site actually worked.

It just wants to open some .pls file. WTF is a .pls file.

Re:now just ... (1)

cheater512 (783349) | about 2 years ago | (#40404657)

Playlist file. Its text based so you can open it in notepad.
Tells a media player where to connect to for the stream. Throw it at VLC or a decent media player.

old news (1)

leaen (987954) | about 2 years ago | (#40398239)

We go applying genetic programing to music as homework assignment at GP class

Re:old news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40398501)

Just wait, next year it'll be the Markov Chain Remix.

Re:old news (1)

maccallr (240314) | about 2 years ago | (#40404621)

Well yes, it's easy to knock out some evo-music toy and move on. We were less interested in the toy and more interested in what happens when you let music evolve in an environment of as many human listeners as we can muster.

Outlaw it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40398259)

As I recall, an ignorant and insane judge outlawed the use of listening to random musical notes that composers use to listen to to get ideas for new tunes. Surely this should be outlawed also.

Re:Outlaw it (1)

pipatron (966506) | more than 2 years ago | (#40409651)

Huh, wtf? Where? When?

Excellent! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40398361)

Going to grab this software, have it run 24/7 on a Beowulf cluster of servers filled with GPUs. Eventually I will own the copyright in EVERY piece of music not yet in existence!

Re:Excellent! (1)

Psyborgue (699890) | about 2 years ago | (#40399115)

Parent is modded funny but it might actually be feasible to have a random tune generator churn out every possible combination of some length of music. You probably wouldn't be able to listen to all of it in your lifetime, but you might very well be able to copyright your "tunes", create a searchable database, and run all newly released music against it. If somebody actually did this it would be interesting to see the resulting court cases. Could by doing this somebody actually DOS the copyright system?

Re:Excellent! (1)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | about 2 years ago | (#40399463)

Yes, maybe this is something Monsanto might want to look into. Diversification!

Re:Excellent! (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#40399517)

Joke's on you, the recording companies have already patented that.

Re:Excellent! (1)

Mystakaphoros (2664209) | about 2 years ago | (#40400685)

Cheaper than monkeys on synthesizers, that's for sure!

Re:Excellent! (2)

agrif (960591) | about 2 years ago | (#40401375)

In IP geek circles, Manfred is legendary; he's the guy who patented the business practice of moving your e-business somewhere with a slack intellectual property regime in order to evade licensing encumbrances. He's the guy who patented using genetic algorithms to patent everything they can permutate from an initial description of a problem domain – not just a better mousetrap, but the set of all possible better mousetraps.

-- Accelerando [] , by Charles Stross

Re:Excellent! (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 2 years ago | (#40402811)

Quick, somebody patent that idea so that the RIAA can't implement it!

"I know you wrote this original tune, but our DarwinTunes server farm came up with that three years ago. You owe us $1,000,000 for selling CDs with our tune on it."

So it's... (4, Funny)

a90Tj2P7 (1533853) | about 2 years ago | (#40398407)

Survival of the phattest?

Original Article from 2009 (1)

mastershake82 (948396) | about 2 years ago | (#40398511)

I knew this seemed familiar, turns out there was a post for this site on Slashdot in 2009 as well: Music By Natural Selection []

Re:Original Article from 2009 (2)

tjp (264994) | about 2 years ago | (#40398591)

That would be why it was linked in the summary.

Re:Original Article from 2009 (5, Informative)

maccallr (240314) | about 2 years ago | (#40399391)

Yeah that 2009 post was my doing - this new one is "organic". The main thing we've added since then is the re-rating of the loops to assess the increase or otherwise of musical appeal through the generations, and to investigate why it slowed down.

Re:Original Article from 2009 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40398619)

This is mentioned in the summary.

New musical options (1)

ubrgeek (679399) | about 2 years ago | (#40398533)

> Starting form [sic] a garble, after several generations producing something that is actually melodic and listen-able.

Britney Spears, Hansen and a host of other lousy singers and now dancing for joy at the news.

Silence is golden (3, Interesting)

Kozz (7764) | about 2 years ago | (#40398719)

Musicians also know that musical compositions benefit from the appropriate amount of silence between notes. If this algorithm were tweaked a bit to include some relative silence here and there, I think it would help the "listenable" factor. Take the final tune for example, and imagine a four-count measure that contained only one note or instrument (or even bass drum-like sound) playing eighth notes on beats 1,2,3,4. It'd create some anticipation, I think. This is the electronic equivalent of "white guy syndrome" -- too many notes!

Re:Silence is golden (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40399013)

They had a piece on NPR the other day and interviewed this guy, basically what it amounts to is crap. Before you down-mod me, hear me out.

They claim they are "cutting out the composer". But what they do, is take random shit and play it for people, who then rank all the different random shit samples by how much they like them. Then they feed back the 'best' ones chosen by the humans, and cycle it again. Over time, it starts sounding more like music.

This is just another variation of the infinite monkeys banging randomly on infinite typewrites and re-creating all literature known to man. Except they're speeding the process up by having humans read each page for words they recognize, and then teaching the monkeys to be less random by preferring words which they've already accidentally created.

They are billing this as machine-created music, but it's not. It still requires humans to select which candidates are culled and which are kept. Call me up when they develop an algorithm or process which does not involve humans, but can judge for itself which to cull and which to keep, and still produce something worth listening to in the end.

Or to put it another way, they've managed to model the music industry approach to pop music- throw as much shit as you can at the public, pay attention to the bits people like, and recycle those bits back out as "new" music. What you end up with is rather boring, vanilla pop music. Every now and then someone comes along who is actually inspired, and you get something new. This program isn't doing that at all.

Re:Silence is golden (3, Informative)

maccallr (240314) | about 2 years ago | (#40399295)

No way are we billing it as machine generated music - the PNAS paper title and website tagline are pretty clear about the role of the consumer/listener.

We thought it would be interesting to test just how far listener-selection can get. Seems like quite far, but in its current state it's obviously not music that will provoke a particularly profound response. This tallies with your comments about the music industry.

Re:Silence is golden (1)

smolloy (1250188) | about 2 years ago | (#40400759)

Don't respond to the AC trolls :)

I was much more interested in seeing your (you are the guy who put this together, right?) reply to the GP post

Re:Silence is golden (1)

maccallr (240314) | about 2 years ago | (#40404707)

Thanks, I had a stab at it (you meant this comment [] ?)

Re:Silence is golden (1)

smolloy (1250188) | more than 2 years ago | (#40427403)

Actually, I was thinking about the comment immediately above the AC you replied to. The one about allowing periods of silence to emerge in the track [] .

Re:Silence is golden (1)

maccallr (240314) | more than 2 years ago | (#40427493)

Ah well, yes, actually there is plenty of scope for audio white space in the DarwinTunes GP representation. Loops do tend to be rather busy though - could be a consequence of either selection or biases in the representation. Thanks for your interest!

Yeah, yeah. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40398811)

We already have Auto Tune, nothing new here.

I have an idea (4, Funny)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about 2 years ago | (#40399593)

Apply this to top 40 songs and turn them into music as well...

Impossible (2)

Pinky (738) | about 2 years ago | (#40399787)

I believe this music has an intelligent designer. Such complex and wonderful music couldn't possibly have arisen by chance. It would be on the same order of magnitude as a tornado blowing through a junkyard assembling a tight little jazz quartet.

Re:Impossible (1)

Mekan (2667461) | about 2 years ago | (#40399893)

I believe this music has an intelligent designer. Such complex and wonderful music couldn't possibly have arisen by chance. It would be on the same order of magnitude as a tornado blowing through a junkyard assembling a tight little jazz quartet.

Actually this music did have a number of intelligent designers. The selection of what sounded good was done be men and women. Designing 'art' through random variation is not new at all.

evolutionary algorithms (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40399837)

So someone applied evolutionary algorithms to music? That's hardly new and has been done in a lot of studies... Eg to create music that sounds like other composers

Re:evolutionary algorithms (1)

bane2571 (1024309) | about 2 years ago | (#40405555)

I think what is important here is that they applied evolutionary alogirthms to music A LOT for A LONG TIME. Somehting that I personally haven't heard of being done anywhere else.

Re:evolutionary algorithms (1)

maccallr (240314) | more than 2 years ago | (#40409417)

exactly, and one more thing - the selection is pretty close natural selection because multiple raters in isolation provide the feedback.

Obviously the music stays fairly saccharine (but now less so than I had imagined) but with enough people you could speciate/split into sub-populations and get more edgy (literally!) music.

'Consumer' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40399841)

"I can't stand it"

Dubstep (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40400819)

Little known fact: Dubstep actually comes from limiting the number of iterations. (2)

slyrat (1143997) | about 2 years ago | (#40401005)

This reminds me of [] , which is the kernal as a radio station. Maybe a bit off topic but there you go.

"Natural Selection" (1)

mfwitten (1906728) | about 2 years ago | (#40402745)

Darwinian evolution by natural selection.

There is only one kind of evolution in this Universe: Evolution by variation and selection. Nothing is ever "designed" as per, say, Intelligent Design; everything comes about through an iterative process of variation and selection, which is called evolution. This applies not only to biological systems (which are the most popular example of the evolutionary process in action), but also to social systems, economic systems, physical systems like galaxy formation, etc.

In particular, there is absolutely no good reason for the "natural" qualifier (or especially that stupid "artificial" qualifier). Everything is natural. At best, the word "natural" is intended to mean "mindless", but evolution became "mindful" as soon as the first brain turned on; something like the brain just allows for the processes of variation and selection to be more sophisticated (put another way, human beings are just as much a part of this Universe as anything else).

Indeed, DarwinTunes even uses people to do the selecting.

That's not Natural selection, it's Intelli-design (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40407945)

Not sure what's so Darwanian about this. An intelligence (i.e. the listerner) is obviously involved, and it is this intelligence which is exercising its objective preference to do the selection. This is nothing more than intelligent-design using a bit of trail-and-error and music synthesis!

Re:That's not Natural selection, it's Intelli-desi (1)

maccallr (240314) | more than 2 years ago | (#40409393)

But there's more than one listener - they are generally not in contact with each other - so the selection is not really directional in the sense of one person breeding dogs or roses. It's pretty close to a natural selection environment.

Re:That's not Natural selection, it's Intelli-desi (1)

pipatron (966506) | more than 2 years ago | (#40409677)

Look at it as a piece of sound that has to survive in its environment. The environment here is a lot of humans. The worst sounds die.

Not original. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40409449)

Evolutionary algorithms have been applied to music and art for years. This work is not original. I haven't read the article, but I heard this being presented as such on Radio 4 a few days ago (in the UK).

For example, see the evomusart conferences:

I'm not knocking their work, I haven't examined it in detail, but just thought it fair to all the researchers in evolutionary art and music (I am not one of them) to point this out.


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