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Can You Survive In A World Of Music Without Musicians?

Listening-machine-sentimentTechnological change has done away with many jobs but it has yet to eliminate artists. Though I'm convinced human-crafted music will continue as a powerful social and cultural force, what does it mean for one's job prospects when software can generate music based on the data from our everyday lives? The following examples include the involvement of musicians at various stages yet suggest the possibility of music without musicians.

The Listening Machine: Music from Tweets

The Listening Machine is:

"an automated system that generates a continuous piece of music based on the activity of 500 Twitter users around the United Kingdom. Their conversations, thoughts and feelings are translated into musical patterns in real time, which you can tune in to at any point through any web-connected device."

The Listening Machine is a project developed by:

"sonic artist and programmer Daniel Jones and composer Peter Gregson [who] have joined forces with Britten Sinfonia orchestra."

The "six-month musical installation" can be accessed via the homepage.

Heart Rate and Brain Wave Music

I don't know how the project turned out but Mark Mallman recently planned a week-long web concert of music generated, in part, from heart rate and brain wave data:

"Every night during his road trip, Mallman will hook himself up to a Polar heart-rate monitor and a Mattel Mindflex headset, both of which will be connected to a laptop running Ableton Live sequencing software."

"One MIDI channel will set the song’s tempo using data from the heart-rate monitor...Mallman’s brain output will be turned into an additional 10 MIDI signals to produce what he calls 'ambient, chordal soundscapes' with the Ableton software."

"By day, Mallman will be hooked up to a different brain wave reader, the Emotiv Epoc neuroheadset, to process signals using a program called Mind Synth, which will create tunes in Ableton."

Mailman will also be playing music on various gadgets and instruments (while awake).

Music From Your Genome

GeneGroove is an iPhone app created by Portable Genomics that takes your genetic data, provided by 23andMe, and uses it to create a "GeNumber" which is then used as the basis for music generation:

"After uploading your 23andMe raw data onto your iPhone via iTunes, GeneGroove will analyze your genome informations and generate a unique identifier key. This key, called the GeNumber, will embed the uniqueness of your genome data while keeping your privacy safe, and will be used by GeneGroove to generate your music melody."

Basic samples and musical material for music melodies were created:

"by DJ Omar Paraiso, Soulful Living Sessions, San Diego, CA. Omar has produced 11 set of Deep Music sounds for you to play 11 different tracks from your genome."

Portable Genomics CEO Patrick Merel recently contacted Music Think Tank to let "artists and the music industry" know that they are interested in how "this concept could be used to connect better artists and fans through their genome music."

If you have suggestions, contact Portable Genomics.

What Happens Next?

These examples all involve musicians and aesthetic choices. But given that many such projects depend on a bounded universe of sounds and musical elements, what happens when a Spotify or Pandora are allowed to open the archives to algorithmic creation. How many more musicians would we need given those who have already recorded?

Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (Twitter/App.net) blogs about music crowdfunding at Crowdfunding For Musicians (@CrowdfundingM). To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.