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  • AI got rhythm
  • A new generation of music-making algorithms is here
  • Their most useful application may lie in helping human composers
  • IN THE DYSTOPIA of George Orwell’s novel “1984”, Big Brother numbs the masses with the help of a “versificator”, a machine designed to automatically generate the lyrics to popular tunes, thereby ridding society of human creativity. Today, numerous artificial-intelligence (AI) models churn out, some free of charge, the music itself. Unsurprisingly, many fear a world flooded with generic and emotionally barren tunes, with human musicians edged out in the process. Yet there are brighter signs, too, that AI may well drive a boom in musical creativity.

    AI music-making is nothing new. The first, so-called “rules-based”, models date to the 1950s. These were built by painstakingly translating principles of music theory into algorithmic instructions and probability tables to determine note and chord progressions. The outputs were musically sound but creatively limited. Ed Newton-Rex, an industry veteran who designed one such model for Jukedeck, a London firm he founded in 2012, describes that approach as good for the day but irrelevant now.

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