You might think that creating the perfect piece of music - whether it's a classical great, jazz masterpiece or pop hit - is all down to the composer's talent, flair or even genius.
Not so, according to Armand Leroi from Imperial College London. "What we are trying to find out is whether you need a composer to make music," says the professor of evolutionary developmental biology. "And we don't think you do."
He believes a much more fundamental force of nature is at work. "We don't often think of music as evolving, but everybody knows it has a history and it has traditions. But if you think about it, it really has evolved, it is changing continuously," Prof Leroi explains.
"There are all the same forces of change, variation, selection and recombination as different musical traditions join together, transmute and fuse and divide again.
Enter Dr Bob MacCallum, mosquito researcher at Imperial College London by day, creator of DarwinTunes by night.
To begin with, the computer program randomly churned out two short loops of noise. "The notes are in any place, in any order, and the types of sound - the instrument - is completely randomly generated as well," says Dr MacCallum.
Then, as in nature, the program let the two original loops to "breed", to recombine and mix up their material, with some random mutations thrown in for good measure, to create four new loops. Those four went on to "reproduce" to create 16 new loops, and so on - until 100 random tunes were in the musical mixing pot.
At which point, the public were brought in. Through the internet, volunteers were asked to rate the songs that were being produced: from love to indifference to pure hatred.
Labels: Grand Blueprint
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