05/25/2018

Artificial Intelligence Gets A Musical Makeover

17:39 minutes

ira and the guests on stage
Credit: Renee Rosenteel

The pop hits of the future might be written not by human musicians, but by machine-learning algorithms that have learned the rules of catchy music, and apply them to create never-before-heard melodies. Those tunes may not even require human hands to be heard, because a growing army of musical robots, from bagpipes to xylophones, can already play themselves—even improvise too.

[The reef is quiet. Too quiet…]

In this segment, recorded live at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Library of Homestead Music Hall, we talk with computer scientist Roger Dannenberg and artist-roboticist Eric Singer about the implications of computerized composition, and unveil a song created by AI. (We’ll let you judge whether it’s worthy of the top 40.)

Plus, roboticist Eric Singer taught his “GuitarBot” to play the Science Friday theme. Take a listen and watch more of these musical bots play tunes below!

Credit: Eric Singer

The midi song below was written by a computer. Try comparing two versions of the same song, one played by the computer and the other by a human band, the townsppl.


[Notes on composing for science.]

Credit: Eric Singer

Credit: Roger Dannenberg


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Segment Guests

Roger Dannenberg

Roger Dannenberg is a professor of Computer Science, Art and Music at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Eric Singer

Eric Singer is a musician and roboticist based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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Christopher Intagliata is Science Friday’s senior producer. He once served as a prop in an optical illusion and speaks passable Ira Flatowese.

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