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One more nail in the coffin of music as art…

The Guardian has an article on the artificial intelligence based software called Hit Song Science:

[HSS is] a piece of software…developed by a Spanish company, Polyphonic HMI, which used decades of experience developing artificial intelligence technology for the banking and telecoms industries to create a program that analysed the underlying mathematical patterns in music. It isolated and separated 20 aspects of song construction including melody, harmony, chord progression, beat, tempo and pitch and identifies and maps recurrent patterns in a song, before matching it against a database containing 30 years’ worth of Billboard hit singles – 3.5m tunes in all. The program then accords the song a score, which registers, in effect, the likelihood of it being a chart success.

Music is at it’s root, mathematical and to some extent predictable. A key change from major to minor makes most western ears sad, and the reverse uplifts us. On the other hand, I’ve always thought there was something mystical above and beyond the habitualized responses and strict musical rules that make up the craft of musicianship.

This kind of automated evaluation based on historical trends can never predict the next big groundbreaking revolution coming along. I can just imagine the next Beatles getting turned down for a contract because of a low HSS score. I can’t even imagine what kind of a score someone like Muddy Waters or even Jimi Hendrix would have gotten.

Maybe this type of thing is as inevitable as auto-tuning software that can turn no talents into pop stars, but that doesn’t make it any less depressing. I’m sure version two of the software will come with a Producer-O-Matic plugin and a direct integration with ProTools. Laugh all you want, predictability is the life blood of corporations. Artistry just gets in the way of that predictability.

Yes folks, music is just a commodity. Or at least that’s the way the music industry would have it.