If you were looking for a reminder that technology is hurtling forward at an astonishing pace, then look no further than Iamus, a supercomputer housed in Spain’s University of Málaga, who has a budding future as a music composer.
As io9 reports, Iamus has generated a piece of contemporary classical music in less than a second. The piece, entitled “Nasciturus”, is one of nine compositions that make up the supercomputer’s self-titled debut album, which took as long to ‘compose’ as it took you to finish reading this sentence.
Written and produced with zero input from any human beings, beyond Iamus’ initial programming, “Nasciturus” (which you can view/hear up top) is an example of ‘evolutionary music’, which is described as the process of a computer starting with a small initial input and then employs a complex algorithm to ‘evolve’ the piece into a finished musical composition, adapting and increasing the complexity of the initial input to fit certain aesthetic criteria.
Scarily, the processing power of the machine means this process is completed in less than a second, though it does take a more human eight minutes to translate the music into notation for humans to perform it.
“Now we can produce modern classical music at the touch of a button,” enthused pianist and composer Gustavo Diaz-Jerez, the software consultant that helped develop Iamus.
“We’ve just told the computer some very general technical things. We have informed the computer that it is impossible for a pianist to play a 10 note chord with one hand. We only have five fingers on one hand,” he says.
“Each composition has a musical core that becomes ever more complex and evolves automatically,” explains Diaz-Jerez. “It starts with very complex structures inside the computer. It is very different from other computer-generated music. When people hear the phrase they imagine that you can hear the computer playing music. Iamus does something different, it projects the complexity we are growing in the computer into musical structures.”
The Terminator franchise may never have predicted that SkyNet developed from humble origins, but if the machines should ever rise up in a Matrix-like fashion, at least the soundtrack will be pretty. You can hear more of Iamus’ classical compositions over at Gustavo Diaz-Jerez’ YouTube channel.
In related music robot news, the world’s only (literal) metal band, German trio Compressorhead, are headed down under as part of the Big Day out 2013 lineup.
With a lineup of machines programmed to rock, consisting of metallic founder and drummer Stickboy (inception date 2007), 78-fingered guitarist Fingers, and the ‘young’ bassist Bones (inception date 2012), the robotic trio are “guaranteed to shake and rattle the world of meatbag music,” with a reminder that “oil is thicker than blood.”
2013: the year of robot music? We’re calling it now meatbags. We for one welcome our new robotic overlords.
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