Meet the Strange, Wonderful 70s Machine that Used AI to Make Music

The 70s were one heck of a groovy time. When they weren’t postulating theories about the very underlying essence of all physical reality being reduced to computational models, pioneering AI scientists were … creating weird music sequencers? Seriously? The Singularity will be brought to you by Giorgio Moroder, perhaps? Yes, as we saw earlier this week, AI legends Edward Fredkin and Marvin Minsky somehow managed to take their research in philosophy, digital physics, and cognitive science, and make a weird box that most definitely is capable of blinking lights and making sequences of bleeps. The Triadex Muse really seems like …

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Zillion is a Generative Step Sequencer from Future-Retro with Loads of Possibilities, Performance Tools

Machines give us something that would have amazed musicians from centuries past: they let us make melodies without playing them directly. Now, there are three ways of doing that. One, there are tools that take what you play and turn them into sequences. Two, there are interfaces for making melodies with touch, sliders and knobs. And then there’s a third category: boxes that can actually generate new melodies, all under your control. You control the parameters of the sequence, but the content is algorithmically produced. Future-Retro’s Zillion does just about anything you would ever dream of in that third category. …

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The Real AI Jazz Factor: Think Different

For further study of the brain, I suggest making a lime JELL-O model. Yum. As an addendum to why trying to make computer models musically creative can be so disastrous, maybe the problem is we fail to understand what creativity is. Scientists funded by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) have found that, when jazz musicians are engaged in the highly creative and spontaneous activity known as improvisation, a large region of the brain involved in monitoring one’s performance is shut down, while a small region involved in organizing self-initiated thoughts and behaviors is highly activated. …

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MySong: Your Own Virtual, Tone-Deaf Accompanist

Microsoft Research has done some amazing work; it doesn’t always move me to tears, but there’s some fantastic stuff that deserves real recognition. And MySong is … well, technologically impressive, if musically painful. It’s a sort of collision between AutoTune and Band-in-a-Box: it recognizes a melody as input, then harmonizes that melody. The vocal input goes well, and illustrates the number of different inputs beyond the mouse you can expect in The Future. Here’s the problem: harmony is extraordinarily difficult to model on a computer because of the number of variables, the amount that’s driven by instinct and art. And …

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Play Drums with Sound, via Software that Learns from You

Okay, first imagine that you can control drums with sound. Not a new idea; audio-driven software has been around for a while. Now imagine that the software is intelligent enough to learn from the sound input it hears. Bang a desk, clap your hands, hit your head against the wall, slap someone you don’t like repeatedly with a fish — it’ll adjust itself to the input. That’s the vision of a new project called BillaBoop. The creator writes CDM to tell us more about it: Hi, My name is Amaury Hazan. I’d like to introduce a software I have developed. …

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Raymond Scott’s Electronium, 50s-vintage Automatic Composing-Performing Machine, Sits Silent

Raymond Scott’s Electronium is one of the great, odd sound inventions of all time. Scott developed the machine as an automatic performance and composing machine, a great, mechanical algorithmic music creation device. For an official source of information, be sure to read up at the Raymond Scott site, which has this fantastic music demo: Electronium Music Sample The idea of the machine, with no keyboard and the ability to “automatically” create music, is still a bit radical today. The sonic results are as whimsical and fresh now as then. But it’s the underlying technology that’s impressive: the device “suggests” musical …

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