Google has unveiled a machine-learning project that is attempting to create ‘compelling’ music and art created entirely by computers.
The project, dubbed Magenta, has already released a 90 second piano melody to demonstrate the system’s capabilities.
While somewhat sparse and lacking in emotion, the short piece has a distinctive melody of sorts with repeating refrains that could almost be hummable if listened to enough times.
Magenta is the latest project from Google Brain, which is researching how computers can be used to create ‘neural networks’ that leverage massive amounts of data to solve tasks that are seemingly beyond the well-understood capabilities of computers.
In a blog post announcing its creation, the Magenta team readily admits that the project may not be able to create compelling music but if it can’t it wants to delve into why computers are incapable of this task.
“Magenta has two goals,” it reads. “First, it’s a research project to advance the state of the art in machine intelligence for music and art generation.”
“Machine learning has already been used extensively to understand content, as in speech recognition or translation. With Magenta, we want to explore the other side – developing algorithms that can learn how to generate art and music, potentially creating compelling and artistic content on their own.
“Second, Magenta is an attempt to build a community of artists, coders and machine-learning researchers.”
The team hopes that artists and musicians will take the set of tools that it is building and use them to expand their own creative endeavours.
“Look at the history of creative tools. Daguerre and later Eastman didn’t imagine what Annie Liebovitz or Richard Avalon would accomplish in photography. Surely Rickenbacker and Gibson didn’t have Jimi Hendrix or St Vincent in mind. We believe that the models that have worked so well in speech recognition, translation and image annotation will seed an exciting new crop of tools for art and music creation,” the blog post reads.
The project will begin by designing algorithms that learn how to generate art and music in a similar fashion to another Google project, DeepDream, which takes user-uploaded images and produces enhanced, highly psychedelic versions of them.
Media produced by Magenta will be made widely available to viewers and listeners in order to develop an understanding of what users find appealing.