There was arguably no greater composer of baroque music than Johann Sebastian Bach. To this day, people still enjoy his numerous compositions, which have lasted well over 300 years. Which is why, when a team of researchers say that they’ve developed a machine – in particular a deep learning neural network – that is able to generate new music that sounds like the work of Bach, it would be in our best interests that we hear them out.
“We developed a model of polyphonic music generation, which learns to compose chorales in the style of Bach. This model is capable of producing convincing chorales, even if it is trained with no other data that the 400 chorale sheets by Bach.”
– Flow Machines
Photo Credit: Flow Machines
The neural network goes by the name DeepBach. To achieve its feat, as according to MIT Technology Review, the researchers created a data set consisting of 352 short chorales by Bach and transpose them to other keys. As a result, DeepBach used 80% of it to recognize specific harmonies. And despite some compositional errors, it was able to generate compositions that reproduced Bach-like patterns without resorting to plagiarism.
According to the researchers, they plan on having DeepBach generate much more interactive compositions in the relatively near future. In doing so, someday, we may very well listen to a brand new composition of baroque music that will be indistinguishable from the classical works of Bach and many others before and after him. Even more importantly, the future of A.I and its ability in generating brand new music will likely result in the ability of creating musical compositions that’ll be unlike anything we’ve ever heard before. Perhaps, just as we look back on the musical greats of the 17th and 18th century 300 years later, we’ll look back at the great works of DeepBach and others well into the future as well.