Some scientists are using computers to literally evolve music from noise

How a bunch of scientists used internet music fans to breed pop music from scratch.


Words by: Charlie Jones

A group of scientists with job titles like “bioinformaticist in the Laboratory of Immunogenomics” at Imperial College London have invented something very interesting.

Darwin Tunes is a project that aims to apply the principles of evolution to popular music. Beginning with a stream of noises (which, oddly, sounds like SND’s latest album), listeners picked the most palatable loops of noise, as natural selection would pick the ten best organisms in a population, and got these to “mate”, creating the next generation, which were then selected, with the best going on to mate and create the next generation of loops.

As one of the scientists explained to Rebecca Morelle on BBC Radio 4, this is no dry experiment: the phenomenon is actually close to the evolution of folk or even pop music – music created by the people, for the people. At around 2,000 generations, melody evolves, and, fascinatingly for house fans, by reproduction cycle 3,000, there’s a kickdrum emerging. You can take part and start rating loops on your iTunes by clicking here, or listen to the Souncloud player below for more information.

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