POP* artificial intelligence music

Dr. Paul Bodily, assistant professor of computer science at Idaho State University, performs a song written by POP*, the artificial intelligence system he created, on May 17. “One of the first compositions Pop* generated was this really somber, pensive song with the lyrics that went, ‘And I think I am just a lie,’ Bodily explained. “I was floored by how much it moved me. We humans all deal with feelings of inadequacy at times, but beyond that, here is an AI system that seems to be questioning its own validity and doing so in an artistic, creative way.”

POCATELLO — When it comes to music, composition is one problem that has always vexed computers. Sure, they can string a few notes or lyrics together, but creating motifs — repeated musical patterns that create form and meaning — is a real challenge. Now, after more than seven years of riffing on the problem, an Idaho State University Computer Scientist has come up with the solution.

“There’s this problem in the artificial intelligence field known as the long-range dependency problem,” explains Dr. Paul Bodily, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at ISU. “Basically, it’s really hard for AI to generate sequences of elements — like music or language — where what elements are chosen in one part of the sequence depend on what elements are chosen in a completely different part of the sequence. For example, musicians may want to have a chorus repeat in different places in a song or have lyrics at different positions rhyme. It is simple enough to copy and paste or separately generate interdependent sequences of notes. But typically, these approaches mean sacrificing the natural flow or coherency between the interdependent elements, and that’s where the challenge lies.”

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