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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Can you tell the difference between Bach and RoboBach? | The Verge

Photo: James Vincent
"Artificial intelligence has become very good at imitating human composers" insist James Vincent, London reporter for The Verge.

Photo: Sony CSL / Flow Machines

Artificial intelligence can imitate the works of Bach so well that you (probably) can’t tell the difference. Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself.

The computer-generated music in these samples is the work of DeepBach — a deep learning-powered program created by Gaetan Hadjeres and François Pachet of the Sony Computer Science Laboratories in Paris. This is the institution that previously gave us the “world’s first” AI pop song (though that had quite a bit of help from humans) and has used its AI music software FlowMachines to mimic musicians ranging from Mozart to the Beatles.

DeepBach: harmonization in the style of Bach generated using deep learning 

Now, though, FlowMachines has conquered Bach — and its success says a lot about the current capabilities (and limitations) of current AI. 

Deep learning, the method used by FlowMachines and tech companies like Google and Apple, relies on sifting through large amounts of structured data to identify (and later synthesize) patterns. When it comes to applying these methods to music, Bach is a perfect fit. Not only was he incredibly prolific, but his music is consistently structured, following various patterns and formal intricacies that defined Baroque music.

For DeepBach, Hadjeres and Pachet concentrated on Bach’s chorales — pieces of music that set traditional hymns to stately, four-part vocal melodies. Bach wrote 389 chorales in his lifetime, giving DeepBach plenty of material to study, and each chorale has recurring patterns. 

Source: The Verge and Sony CSL-Paris Channel (YouTube)