I recently completed work on a web application that is a portal to the discovery of new music by composers that are currently living or who have been active in the last half century: the Living Music Database.

My vision is for it to be a valuable way for people to find contemporary classical or electroacoustic recordings. Inspiration for the project came from my own desire to find new music to listen to, something I had neglected and had trouble doing as a student.

To accomplish this I created an algorithm that utilizes the Google Knowledge Graph and Wikipedia APIs to gather a database of composers. Then for each of these composers, available recordings from both iTunes and Spotify are linked. No actual music is stored in this database, just a method to sample the tracks using each service's 30-60 second sound samples along with links to the respective albums or artist pages.

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After a fairly good run of performances, I have been stuck in a lull due to the time commitment required for my Computer Science degree (a math degree, in essence). Very quickly I realized that, unless you are famous, getting performances for my music requires constant pursuit. Along with that, composing is just like playing an instrument: without constant practice it can be very difficult to get back into a groove. In the past I would compose pieces specifically for competitions or calls for scores. As a result, I have a bunch of music with odd instrumental combinations that will never be performed.

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This summer I composed Through the Mystic Woods after reading the A Song of Fire and Ice book series by George R.R. Martin. It is inspired not only by the books, but also by the score of the TV series. In addition to orchestral sounds from the Vienna Symphonic Library, there is a synthesizer part created with an authentic Yamaha DX-7. As part of my new personal composition method, this work was created in Logic Pro instead of with notation software. The idea is to create the music in a more organic way instead of focusing on notation. I find this makes dealing with shape and space easier to conceptualize. ​

In the article “Creative AI: Computer composers are changing how music is made” by Richard Moss, current trends in music composed by computer programs is examined. Artificial Intelligence is an area of research in Computer Science that deals with creating computer programs that imitate (to some degree) the human mind’s learning process. Moss presents several examples of different kinds of computer music composition including: programs that are able to mimic a specific composer’s style (Well Programmed Clavier by David Cope), those based on biology (Iamus), and even one that automatically composes music for video games based on the live situation in the game itself (Mezzo). Many people wonder if A.I. composition can truly be creative, and if it is, can it put living composers out of work? On the latter, I don’t believe that A.I. composition will likely be able to supplant actual human composers. The question of a computer program’s capacity for creativity, however, is a much more complicated and subjective problem to address.

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