Why AI will lose in music, Warner Music Accelerator Program

The evolution of automated music making through the centuries

2023 has seen a massive rise in automated music creation and technology that can assist in the creation process of any style or genre conceivable. While the use of artificial technology for music creation has evoked lively debate over both the quality of the productions as well as the “ownership” of the product, automated music has been utilized for centuries in a variety of applications.

A study conducted by Bjørnar Sandvik who is a music researcher at the RITMO Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Rhythm, Time, and Motion located at the University of Oslo, looked into the past at the creation of music boxes and carillons that have been reproducing music for centuries. Sandvik discusses how creating a tool to reproduce musical compositions has always relied upon a grid system to set the time and rhythm:

“In the past, a common challenge was to make machines play music that had already been composed as notes on paper. Thus, the ideal was to surpass the human ability to follow the notation and play on grid. In the digital age, the challenge is often the opposite,” he says. “It is easy to get a modern computer to play on the beat. The challenge is to make it go off grid and do it in a human and creative way.”

This is similar to modern music tools such as Logic Pro, Ableton, and Pro Tools that rely upon grids to craft rhythm, although now the magic lies in minor adjustments off the grid to provide rhythm and a human feel to the production.

“The fact that EDM is characterised as dance music may seem paradoxical to some. According to rhythm research, music should deviate from the beat to create groove and a desire to dance. The rhythms in EDM are often perceived as predictable and strictly on the grid.”

The evolution of music creation and the additional use of machines is a fascinating history and one that is key to the creation of dance music.

Image Credits: BBC.com

Avid music fan, and avid music producer! Producer and songwriter for NOHC.