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Automatic Christmas Music

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the rated-m-for-muzak dept.

Christmas Cheer 295

crispinalt writes "Just in time for the holiday season, Brian Whitman, the creator of Eigenradio, has had his computers compose the 'statistically optimal' Christmas music in A Singular Christmas, a freely downloadable MP3 album. A bank of computers listened to as much Christmas music as they could handle, and then learned their own true meaning of holiday cheer. Enjoy!"

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295 comments

Well... you can hear something. (3, Interesting)

Quebec (35169) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117676)

I listened to it and well...

it's a bit creepy, although it could reflect how I sometimes feel in the middle of the Christmas rush.

Re:Well... you can hear something. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11118035)

It cannot be creepier than a big shopping mall near where I live.

It plays Chrismas "elevator-type" music, but something's clearly wrong with the sound system, as about half the output volume is just static and feedback.

I look at the other shoppers and no one seems to be bothered by the static. It has not been fixed in the two weeks since I noticed it.

I'm waiting for missing track #17 - Silent night! (4, Informative)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117678)

Hmm, I don't know if any of you will be able to actually listen to this "music" but it certainly isn't worth wasting your time and bandwith to try. Expecting something more like "music" I downloaded it at work and at home before the story posted to the front page for everyone...

To my surprise it is quite "infantile". What I mean when I say "infantile" is that it sounds like a 9 month old baby banging on the keys randomly until you want to duct tape their hands together (see 02 - Mountain noel for an example of this).

03 - Faithful clear is certainly "clear" as it is basically the same tone for 2:31. Really holidayish, thanks! Expecting 13 - Cherry misfortune to perhaps be exactly the opposite I listened intently three times hoping to catch a glimpse of the artistry that would cause this story to be posted to Slashdot. I didn't find it.

Needless to say it won't exactly be a Merry Christmas for Brian Whitman and his computers and I doubt they will be making any money anytime soon if they continue to put out work of this "caliber"...

Brian, perhaps "17 - Silent night" should just be a blank MP3 that goes on for 2:34. I think that one would be the most popular.

Re:I'm waiting for missing track #17 - Silent nigh (1)

jdray (645332) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117718)

"Pum Pa Chestnut Pies" is a bit creepy, but it's almost recognizable as music.

Re:I'm waiting for missing track #17 - Silent nigh (4, Informative)

TBone (5692) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117775)

Garcia said:
Brian, perhaps 17 - Silent night should just be a blank MP3 that goes on for 2:34. I think that one would be the most popular.

It would also be a Copyright Infringement [interglacial.com] of John Cage's most famous work :)

Re:I'm waiting for missing track #17 - Silent nigh (3, Interesting)

a_timid_mouse (607237) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117850)

Only if the 2:34 is an exact subset, or sample, of the complete 4:33 work, right? Otherwise, it could be a completely different composition of rests of different lengths than the 4:33 work. :-)

Re:I'm waiting for missing track #17 - Silent nigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11117909)

So if it involves a harmonica and a Timex Ironman, we're good, right?

Um.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11118048)

This is Slashdot, copyright infringement is no crime around here.

Re:I'm waiting for missing track #17 - Silent nigh (2, Insightful)

raddan (519638) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118168)

Except that John Cage's version is 4:33 [wikipedia.org]. And Silent Night [wikipedia.org] was first performed in it's current form in 1818, so John Cage is the one in trouble. That is, if he weren't already dead.

Jon Katz found !!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11117794)

If you are in the Bay Area, you can hear him on KQED right now, on the "Forum" [kqed.org] program.

Other slashdotters can listen via a realmedia stream linked from the main KQED page [kqed.org]

It seems that these days his thing is to talk about his dogs rather than about his nerds.

Re:I'm waiting for missing track #17 - Silent nigh (2, Insightful)

SYFer (617415) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117871)

I find Eigenradio and likewise this Christmas project as something of an overworked joke. The resulting buzzing noise isn't really listen-able or interesting or telling.

You could take all the stuff in your refrigerator--a composite, if you will of all your favorite foods, toss them in a blender and you'd have an unappealing brown slop. Ha ha. Kind of funny conceptually, but you wouldn't necessarily open a restaurant serving it.

OFF-TOPIC?!?!? MOD PARENT UP! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11118014)

20% Offtopic

This was modded off-topic? What the fuck are you? A moron? This is by far THE most on-topic post in this thread.

Fucking mod parent up!

Re:I'm waiting for (1)

Apparently someone (457360) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118296)

Slashposted at 1:01:00pm

Sladdotted at 1:01:30pm

Slashbashed at 1:02:00pm

...and you're waiting for another track? Amazing. I thought the Slashholiday season was about Slashtolerance. ;)

Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11117694)

Now MIT got slashdotted

Re:Great (0, Redundant)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117724)

Anyone got a torrent?

Re:Great (2, Informative)

krray (605395) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117843)

No, but working on getting the file.
Hint: try https://
[sneaky "back door" works like a charm ;]

Re:Great (1)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117926)

When I posted that, I thought to myself, "Given /., I give it a 50-50 chance to be modded up insightful." Never did I imagine that I'd both be right. :-)

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11118246)

Yes someone toss up a torrent please :)

This is the aural equivalent... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11117720)

...of fruitcake.

Re:This is the aural equivalent... (4, Funny)

east coast (590680) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117731)

All Christmas music is the aural equivalent of fruit cake.

Re:This is the aural equivalent... (1)

scotay (195240) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117804)

I would nominate Darlene Love's Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) as an exception to this rule. That one kicks ass. Fear's Fuck Christmas might also qualify.

Re:This is the aural equivalent... (1)

dfj225 (587560) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117847)

I would say that you should give Trans-Siberian Orchestra a listen. While not all of their songs are completely amazing, some are simply beautiful.

Re:This is the aural equivalent... (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117986)

I would say that you should give Trans-Siberian Orchestra a listen.

Mind you this was years ago so I may be mistaking something but...

I've heard snippits of TSO. I can't fault people for liking it but it leaves me with the same kinda dread I feel when I hear the likes of Mannheim Steamroller and the likes of the Windham Hill crew going at the Christmas theme.

Again, I'm not saying it's bad, it's certainly talented but I just can't get into it.

Now maybe if Tangerine Dream did a XMas album around 1976 I'd find it decent but I can't imagine such a thing. (yeah, laugh it up, I'm a TD fan)

Fruit Cake for the EARS (1)

drewzhrodague (606182) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117965)

Yah, and the part that sucks is when -- like fruit cake -- you get bits stuck in your teeth, and you can't get the pieces out!

Seriously. At my ultra corporate contract gig, someone had decorated his cube with a quite elaborate setup, including the music -- his laptop kicks out the SAME FOUR SONGS ALL DAY LONG, while he goes off to cookie meetings and such. It's DRIVING ME INSANE!

And then I sing Frank Sinatra's Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer to myself on the way to my car...

Re:Fruit Cake for the EARS (1)

satoshi1 (794000) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118005)

Get a hammer, bash the crap out of the song-serving laptop, say the elfs did it in retaliation of all the toys they are forced to make.

Re:Fruit Cake for the EARS (2, Informative)

east coast (590680) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118237)

Get a hammer, bash the crap out of the song-serving laptop

Guys guys guys (and gals too)... Violence against a machine never solved anything. You gotta bash the USER with the hammer to make the difference.

Re:This is the aural equivalent... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11118084)

All generalities suck.

NO MORE CHRISTMAS MUSIC! (5, Funny)

lilmouse (310335) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117727)

I work at Rockefeller Center in NYC - the music is starting to drive me mad!! The *last* thing I need is people finding ways to optimize the torture!

--LWM

Re:NO MORE CHRISTMAS MUSIC! (3, Insightful)

Jerf (17166) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117819)

It was strange watching A Charlie Brown Christmas last night, which is in large part a polemic against the commercialization of Christmas... from 1965.

It was immediately followed by an ad for Kohl's Christmas sale, Mervyn's (I think) Christmas sale, and a Christmas sale at a local car dealership. (Along with a couple of other commercials that weren't Christmas.)

I'm not sure I'd really want to advertise my Christmas specials during or immediately following the airing of A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Re:NO MORE CHRISTMAS MUSIC! (4, Insightful)

ender- (42944) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118059)

I'm not sure I'd really want to advertise my Christmas specials during or immediately following the airing of A Charlie Brown Christmas.

No, but it proves that most people probably just watch the pretty cartoons, and have no concept of the meaning of what they've just watched. Because you KNOW that most of them watch the show, then said, "Oooh, Mervyn's is having a sale!".

ender-

Seasonal Antidote to Consumer Mall Hell (1)

MooseByte (751829) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118055)


"the music is starting to drive me mad!!"

Might as well go all the way [cthulhulives.org] then.

Seriously though, it's awfully fun to be able to sing "antidote" lyrics to the incredibly sappy tunes that have become commercialized to the point of mindless oblivion.

The other night in a shopping mall when I might have otherwise been cringing at the seasonal Muzak, I was instead happily humming about Shoggoths, Fishmen and the Yog-Sothoth.

Put everything in a whole new perspective. :-)

(Absolutely no connection to CthulhuLives.org - I just stumbled across the CD last week and have been playing it daily since.)

please put it back (2, Funny)

l3v1 (787564) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117742)

I can't listen to this stuff, maybe someone in the first few moved it instead of copying, so please put it back :)

Geez, we, the /. crowd, all them servers are belong to us :7

Silent Server...Holy Server (5, Funny)

FerretFrottage (714136) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117748)

all is gone, all the bytes
round platters spinning away
IT admins going "what the hey"
Thrash in heavenly peace, thrash your drives to pieces.

In the voice of Noddy Holder (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11117973)

So here it is, merry slashdot effect
Everybody's having 401s
Look at your bandwidth now
It's only just beg-u-u-u-u-n

Re:Silent Server...Holy Server (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11118183)

Here comes Slashdot here comes Slashdot
Write down Slashdot's name
For if it links to you, you will die from
Horrible suffering and pain!

All your servers are belong to
Many curious folk
Balance the load and optimize the stack
Cause Slashdot will leave you broke

Grr (2, Interesting)

bigberk (547360) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117752)

More Christmas music? No thanks. I was hanging out at the liquor store yesterday (hooray for holiday wine) and was talking to some of the store employees. Although I insisted they shut off that fscking music, they said in fact it's piped in from head office. This seems to be the case with many stores these days; Christmas music is just piped in. Apparently it has a positive effect on sales, as people have been trained to associate Christmas music with opening their wallets.

It aint about religion, boy, it's about $$.

Re:Grr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11118056)

wow that got modden down unexpectedly! you've obviously never worked at a mall/store during December

Re:Grr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11118287)

Well corporations exist to make money so they capitalize on every holiday they can. It has little to do with how religious or not the holiday is supposed to be.

this guys in trouble (4, Funny)

bigberk (547360) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117785)

but how can he post these?!? MP3s are illegal. mit's gonna have is ass. he should be ashamed for robbing profits from a desperate industry

Re:this guys in trouble (1)

spac3manspiff (839454) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117913)

haha, slashdotting is the new form of 'telling on people'!
Im telling..Im telling
Teacher! he's stealing

Re:this guys in trouble (1)

wcb4 (75520) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118129)

It's a real shame hat some people honestly think that MP3s are illegal now. They have heard so much about P2P networks and people getting sued that they assume that MP3s are illegal... I've legally purchased thousands of MP3s I tell them, but they still don't believe... sad really.

Not really new (4, Insightful)

CharonX (522492) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117787)

Not really new I think.
They already use this technique to churn out new Boybands and Reality TV shows - at least that's the only way I can explain them. :)

UHF (4, Insightful)

suso (153703) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117803)

You know, sometimes slashdot reminds me of that old Weird Al movie UHF:

Stanley Spadowski: Who wants to take a drink from the fire hose!
*Kid gets knocked up against the wall by the water pressure*

Slashdot is the water pressure.

Seems like a bit much to me. (2, Insightful)

Ssbe (614884) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117809)

Is it just me or does anyone else think it's a bit weird to have a computer pick out everything in our lives? Do we really need a computer to tell us what music we like to listen to? I don't think so.

Re:Seems like a bit much to me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11117887)

Do you think anybody cares whether or not you think so?

Re:Seems like a bit much to me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11118038)

It kept the common folk content in '1984'. That's a cheery thought, eh?

Re:Seems like a bit much to me. (1)

wcb4 (75520) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118163)

and who told you that you could have that opinion... Is that the opinion that the computer picked out for you? I don't think so.

Re:Seems like a bit much to me. (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118313)

Quick! Somebody get the computer to mod this guy up. Or down. Or... well, it'll do something eventually.

A torrent, a torrent... (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117845)

my kingdom for a torrent...

this would be a perfect use for a torrent... wget has just about stopped, yet again... good job I've got infinite retries set...

Re:A torrent, a torrent... (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117959)

brilliant... wget's finally connected.. and I'm getting 90+ kbps... now how the heck do I create a torrent from what I get??? and anyone got any good suggestions for trackers for hosting the torrent

Re:A torrent, a torrent... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11118017)

Grab the Azureus bittorrent client. It's quite nice, despite being written in Java (which makes it eat up an obscene amount of RAM). But it has the capability to create a torrent straight away! Try it out!

Re:A torrent, a torrent... (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118145)

I'm currently running azureus... It's the cat's pyjamas... the problem is a tracker to use that won't kick me off... hmmm /me goes off to investigate etree.org [etree.org]

bummer... wget's stopped and is awaiting response... I've only got 80% completed... :(

If someone wants to give it to me I could mirror (3, Funny)

ToadMan8 (521480) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117878)

Students at Miami left today; I have about 140 megabits to lay waste to if someone would like to give it to me (scp or something) you can IM me at ToadMan8. I kinda want to see if I can /. the University.

Re:If someone wants to give it to me I could mirro (5, Funny)

Bill_Royle (639563) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118042)

Miami network admin: "Sir? We've got gigabytes of usage all of a sudden, all from one VLAN."

Miami network manager: "Let's see... all the students have gone home. Who's left in that building?"

30 seconds later, Toadman8 becomes confused as his IM session (and all network traffic) drops.

Moral of the story: When laying waste to a network bandwidth-wise, it is best to do it when you're able to point a finger elsewhere.

If McCartney's Wonderful Christams was used... (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117881)

the dataset is horribly flawed. That must be the worst Christmas song ever.

I guess even a Beatle is allowed a stinker once in a while.

eigenradio (1)

phloydde1 (528605) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117882)

Eigenradio is one of the more original net projects around. sure, it not music. It's noise, it's annyoing, but it's REALLY freaking cool.

the reason it works is that us humans are nothing but pattern processing machines and Eigen radio is nothing but the blending of patterns. And I gotta say, this random blending of sweet sugary goodness that eigenradio spills out onto the internet like some heavenly marshmellow cream filling is the best work music there is.

Mirror Link (3, Informative)

madweb (633001) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117896)

The server has taken a holiday, so here's a mirror as a gift!

http://www.madweb.org/A_Singular_Christmas.zip [madweb.org]

Have fun killing my bandwidth. ;)

Re:Mirror Link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11118009)

Didn't take long to kill it did it?

And at the other end of the scale... (2, Interesting)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117942)

has to be Barbera Streisand's frenetic in-your-face version of Jingle Bells that always makes my eyeballs bleed whenever I hear it. ....but your taste may vary...

Just in case (1)

Striker770S (825292) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117946)

... your ears didnt completely bleed out to prevent hearing the same jingles over and over again, you can hear it in annoying beeps. I thought that the kenny g verson would satisfy everybodies needs to hear the same crappy tune over again with a different noise added.

The longer you listen, the longer you will listen (1)

retinaburn (218226) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117966)

I have been listening to these songs for sometime. And while some of them just plainly hurt the ears, I find if I put them in random shuffle I can have them playing for some time, without boredom. Also the longer you listen to them the more interesting they become, almost hypnotising, like whale music. Picking up a few notes from songs you recognize is kinda interesting too.

hmm. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11117968)

What does it say about Slashdot readers that most people assumed this collection of "music" was supposed to be good... and then criticized it for, well, sounding like a computer made it?

Nimrodmas Carols (2, Funny)

ion_ (176174) | more than 9 years ago | (#11117982)

Ctrl+Alt+Del got it right in the "Video Games Don't Make People Violent..." [ctrlaltdel-online.com] strip. :-)

I wonder how soon is the RIAA going to claim he committed a copyright infringement by processing the music with a neural network (presumedly) and publishing the results?

I also wonder how many software patents he infringed on by implementing the program(s)... Y'know, math isn't everyone's privilege.

Statistically optimal. (2, Funny)

blair1q (305137) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118004)

You know what's statistically optimal?

The unit probability of a dude who writes computer programs that can compose their own music not having the bandwidth in place for a proper slashdotting.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A^ytR^%}}}}}}}}}}}

MUST...NOT ....DOWNLOAD! ...MUST... RESIST... (2, Funny)

enigmals1 (667526) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118032)

Crap. I'm downloading it. It's like the big red button with a sign that says DO NOT PUSH. Well, now I HAVE to even though I know it will only lead to a dark and scarey place ;)

Torrents are good (1)

DrunkBastard (652218) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118033)

I'd host a torrent as I have a few dozen megabits to to waste, but I can't get the stupid thing in the fist place...

On the second day of Christmas... (1)

kkovach (267551) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118034)

...slashdot sent to me
A new webserver that's not on fire!
and a partridge in a pear tree.

- Kevin

forget the music! (1)

Triumph The Insult C (586706) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118079)

WTF is wrong with you people? this is slashdot!

let's see some pics of that bank of computers. we need some h0t cpu pr0n for friday afternoon. show me those heatsinks baby!

I thought Christmas was dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11118091)

Wow! I thought they had banned the term "Christmas" and now referred to it generically as "Holidays." My employer doesn't have a Christmas dinner anymore, we have a diversity dinner. How quaint.

All the while (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11118259)

It's ok to shove crap like Kwanza down people's throats.

michael's departments (1)

syrinx (106469) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118120)

What's up with Michael's "rated-X-for-SomethingThatStartsWithX" dept. lines today?

have any of you actually studied music? (2, Insightful)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118146)

theres been a recent study at some uc college (forgot which) showing that tonal music promotes the growth of plants (atleast the species tested) and atonal music actually shows signs of inhibiting said growth.

to do a mathematical analysis of tonal and atonal music, there isn't a significant difference (atleast with good atonal music, which is hard to come by) suggesting the difference lies within our biology.

the reason this music seems so repulsive is likely the fact that the computer only studied the music.

in the middle ages, back when that root of all evil the christian church (catholic? same thing) ruled europe, certain chords were deemed "dissonant" because priests didnt like the way they sounded. i believe it all started firstly with the "devil's" chord. anywho, any competant musician can tell you that its really hard, maybe impossible, to write good music using dissonant chords.

i think it was mozart, maybe bach, who tried to write a symphony using dissonant chords. but he could not.

in much computerized music, and indeed in this music, dissonant chords find free reign, possibly due to a sense of anti-inhibition and free spirit-y-ness (okay, i made that word up, but you should understand what i mean) on the part of the programmer, or maybe just a lack of experience in creating music.

maybe this kind of thing would turn out better if the computer started from the beginning, and used the conventions, before trying to break them.

isn't that the rule about learning to code? and about learning to write?

if you think im making shit up, you can always check my facts yer selves, you lazy punks! wikipedia roxorz!

I've studied music! (4, Interesting)

scottblascocomposer (697248) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118332)

Actually, its fantastically difficult (if not impossible) to write good or interesting music without using dissonant chords! Dissonances are necessary to make a harmonic progression interesting, whether they are dissonances between harmonies, or within them.

Um, let's see, what else? Ah, the tritone (augmented 4th/diminished 5th) was the Devil's tone, and it was in fact essentially verboten for some time, but has certainly been in wide use both in and out of the church for the last 300 years at least. Oh, and Mozart wrote a string quartet which was dubbed "Dissonances" that very successfully makes dissonant harmonies a fundamental part of it's materials.

I'm a pretty competent musician, a composer no less, and I couldn't imagine keeping a musical line interesting without the use of dissonance at some level--it really is not feasible. Its like trying to discern depth without light and shadows... contrastless mush.

I Give Up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11118242)

Slashdot has become terrible. Between the lame stories, dupes and having to hit refresh 300 times just to get the page to render, I give up.

Anybody have a good replacement for Slashdot?

Most Wanted/Unwanted Songs (2, Interesting)

jonesvery (121897) | more than 9 years ago | (#11118326)

Reminds me of the Most Wanted Song / Most Unwanted Song [diacenter.org] project that Komar & Melamid did in conjunction with Dave Soldier. Based on survey responses, they created songs that (statistically speaking, of course) should appeal to 72 +/- 12% of listeners (most popular), and one that would appeal to fewer than 200 people in the entire world (least popular).

And no, they really didn't take it that seriously , they knew that their sampling and control methods weren't all that strict, and were aware that the resulting music isn't likely to actually generate responses that meet the projected stats. :)

Komar and Melamid also did a "most wanted painting [diacenter.org]" project, which has the actual survey results and resulting paintings available online.

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