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DAC- The Mozart of Computer Systems

By Katie Lee on 2017-12-16

Machines are capable of so many things. New features are being developed every day to improve computers and their possible functions. Would you believe it if I said a machine could create an entire song on its own?


We all know about apps that one could use to create music (such as Garage Band). But, there are still people doing all the work like adding sounds, creating tracks, and so on. But imagine a computer system that could write music completely by itself with no person acting behind the scenes to add notes. Naturally, however, scientists are still designing the system and creating the algorithms.


DAC, or the Deep Artificial Composer, is a program created by Swiss researchers. It can produce whole original songs based on what it believes would sound good. Co-developer, Florian Colombo, even said the created melodies from DAC are “quite agreeable to listen to.” First, it was exposed to modern music styles and genres (a learning curve known as “deep learning”) so DAC could gauge what people like in real time. DAC automatically listens to newly released songs and changes its algorithms accordingly.


DAC also knows what notes work well together and what notes do not depending on the genre of music the system is trying to fit into. For instance, if the system is trying to create a song under the “country” genre, then the notes used - as well as instruments used - would be different than a “pop” song. However, along with choosing different notes, DAC predicts the next note based on the range of possibilities it memorized. It also predicts the pitch and duration of each note.


Much like a new employee, DAC had to go through training before it could start making songs by itself. Before the system could be officially out of training, it had to have at least 50% accuracy in predicting pitch and 80% accuracy in predicting duration for existing songs. This means that one person or a group of people had to listen to every song DAC predicted as well as DAC’s predictions. What a detail oriented job that must have been.


DAC’s algorithm was designed to produce a plethora of tunes. It is forced to not repeat notes in a row which is because the researchers knew that an algorithm which predicts notes, will most likely predict the same note over and over. This thoroughly considered feature helps make DAC very versatile, but it’s far from an artificial Mozart as of now. It is also unlikely that scientists are going to develop machines with emotions due to the possible repercussions (such as a machine uprising).


Composers put their hopes, dreams, and soul into songs. They personalize them to show the world how they feel. Machines simply cannot do this since they do not feel. Thus the tunes may not make you feel something and it is for this reason that DAC’s designers claim that a goal for the system should be for little jingles such as for commercials or elevator music rather than for serious music. However this is not to say that Columbo and the rest of the team have not accomplished anything. It was still a big step to get a computer to make music all by itself, and it was a milestone that we have passed thanks to Columbo and the others on DAC’s team.


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