Monday, September 28, 2009

Sobering Truth: Computers will write songs by the billions

As far as I know, no one has built a computer program that writes ordinary rock songs from scratch, but it's bound to come. There are no technical barriers; and eventually someone will be willing to spend a few months writing it. Consider these examples of computer-generated material:
  • My Songwriting Assignment Generator combines randomly selected words and phrases in a limited set of formulas to create a nearly infinite set of songwriting suggestions.
  • Wolfram Tones generates actual musical compositions in real time. The resulting music doesn't quite sound like the music we're familiar with, but it doesn't sound like it's from another planet either.
Either of these approaches could be extended to creating formulaic rock songs from scratch. It's not a trivial challenge, but it's easier than any number of clever computer programs that have already been created.

When computers are writing songs, will that make songwriters obsolete? Not at all! But it will make it even clearer than the value of your songwriting doesn't come just from creating stuff. It comes from what you have to say. Art is different from manufacturing; it's about expressing something.

This means, more than ever, you'll want to find the value in who you are. Think about what's unique about yourself. Learn to love your imperfections -- those are now assets!

Don't try to write perfect songs; we can let the computers have that niche. Aim to write your songs.

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