If you want your kid to do well in math, experts have long said that studying music may be the way to go. A new artificial intelligence (AI) project from Sony’s Computer Science Laboratories has produced results that pretty much prove the connection between some styles of classical music and math.
In this project, researchers set out to create a program that could mimic the musical style Johann Sebastian Bach by examining his works – more specifically, the mathematical principles behind his works – and then generate their own Bach-like harmonies to melodies that it was given. Basically, could the software make “Happy Birthday To You” sound like it was written by Bach?
The answer is yes!
According to a report on the project by Quartz, “In particular, Bach’s chorale harmonizations are ripe for systems like artificial intelligence to understand: They always consist of four parts (a melody and three harmonies), are short in duration (about a minute long), and are based off simple melodies that were popular in Lutheran hymns. These consistent traits allowed a deep neural network built by Sony’s Computer Science Laboratories to break down the patterns found between 352 of Bach’s chorales and generate new harmonies.”
Of course, the naysayers among the music elite might take issue with the mere suggestion that a computer could pass itself off as the composer, so the project also created a quiz to test whether the listener could identify the Bach-versus-the-Box. More than one thousand people, many of them avid listeners or even students of classical music, were tested; in about half the cases, the listener got it wrong. For those who remain unconvinced, the link to the online test can be found here.
This experiment obviously has both merit and frivolous interest. It’s not only a testament to the ability of software to learn and produce original results, but also its ability to meet the needs of an equation to produce more equations. The part about fooling the die-hard fans is just a bonus.