Can we differentiate between human and computer compositions?

Posted on: June 15, 2012

Thursday (6/14) on the Pacific Standard, Tom Jacobs writes, “A few years from now, as you take your seat in a concert hall, you might open your program and find a puzzling announcement: Tonight we’ll be hearing works by André Previn, Henry Purcell, and Hewlett Packard. An annoying example of product placement? Actually, it could be an accurate, if incomplete, indicator of authorship. And without that notification, we might never know the difference. Most of us like to think we could easily differentiate between a piece of music written by a human being and one generated by a computer. But a paper just presented at the International Conference on Computational Creativity 2012 suggests otherwise. In it, three researchers from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver—Arne Eigenfeldt, Adam Burnett and Philippe Pasquier—describe a real-world test of their ongoing collaboration, the Musical Metacreation Project. … This past December, the trio presented a public concert of world-premiere compositions, which were performed by a professional string quartet, a percussionist, and a Disklavier (a mechanized piano that can interface with a computer). … The key findings: ‘The audience did not discern computer-composed from human-composed material.’ Listeners generally considered the works appealing, but they found the human-composed works no more enjoyable than those created by computers.”

Posted June 15, 2012