Oleg Zabluda's blog
Friday, December 16, 2016
Deep-Learning Machine Listens to Bach, Then Writes Its Own Music in the Same Style

Deep-Learning Machine Listens to Bach, Then Writes Its Own Music in the Same Style
neural network that has learned to produce choral cantatas in the style of Bach. They call their machine DeepBach [...] “After being trained on the chorale harmonizations by Johann Sebastian Bach, our model is capable of generating highly convincing chorales in the style of Bach,” say Hadjeres and Pachet. Indeed, about half the time, these compositions fool human experts into thinking they were actually written by Bach.

The machine-learning technique is straightforward. Hadjeres and Pachet begin by creating a data set to train their neural network. They begin with 352 chorales composed by Bach and then transpose these to other keys that lie within a predefined vocal range, to give a data set of 2,503 chorales. They use 80 percent of these to train their neural network to recognize Bach harmonies and the rest to validate it.

The machine then produces harmonies of its own in the style of Bach. The team tests the device by giving it a melody, which it then uses to produce harmonies for three other voices, the alto, tenor, and bass.

While other algorithmic approaches can also do this, an important question is how well they all compare with Bach’s work. To find out, the team asked more than 1,600 people to listen two different harmonies of the same melody. More than 400 of them were professional musicians or music students. Each had to determine which of the two harmonies sounded more like Bach. [...] around half the voters judged that it was composed by Bach. That’s significantly higher than with music generated by any other algorithm. [...] Even when confronted with music composed by Bach himself, participants only judged that correctly 75 percent of the time.


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