Evolutionary music is the audio counterpart to Evolutionary art, whereby algorithmic music is created using an evolutionary algorithm. The process begins with a population of individuals which by some means or other produce audio (e.g. a piece, melody, or loop), which is either initialized randomly or based on human-generated music. Then through the repeated application of computational steps analogous to biological selection, recombination and mutation the aim is for the produced audio to become more musical. Evolutionary sound synthesis is a related technique for generating sounds or synthesizer instruments. Evolutionary music is typically generated using an interactive evolutionary algorithm where the fitness function is the user or audience, as it is difficult to capture the aesthetic qualities of music computationally. However, research into automated measures of musical quality is also active. Evolutionary computation techniques have also been applied to harmonization and accompaniment tasks. The most commonly used evolutionary computation techniques are genetic algorithms and genetic programming.
NEUROGEN (Gibson & Byrne, 1991) employed a genetic algorithm to produce and combine musical fragments and a neural network (trained on examples of "real" music) to evaluate their fitness. A genetic algorithm is also a key part of the improvisation and accompaniment system GenJam which has been developed since 1993 by Al Biles. Biles and GenJam are together known as the Al Biles Virtual Quintet and have performed many times to human audiences. Since 1996 Rodney Waschka II has been using genetic algorithms for music composition including works such as Saint Ambrose and his string quartets. In 1997 Brad Johanson and Riccardo Poli developed the GP-Music System which, as the name implies, used genetic programming to breed melodies according to both human and automated ratings. Several systems for drum loop evolution have been produced (including one commercial program called MuSing).
The EvoMUSART Conference from 2012 (previously a workshop from 2003) was part of the Evo* event annually from 2003. This event on evolutionary music and art is one of the main outlets for work on evolutionary music.
The EuroGP Song Contest (a pun on Eurovision Song Contest) was held at EuroGP 2004. In this experiment several tens of users were first tested for their ability to recognise musical differences, and then a short piano-based melody was evolved.
The GeneticDrummer is a Genetic Algorithm based system for generating human-competitive rhythm accompaniment.
The easy Song Builder is an evolutionary composition program. The user decides which version of the song will be the germ for the next generation.
Melomics, an artificial intelligence group based in Málaga, Spain, has used evolutionary algorithms to compose full pieces of music in specific genres, creating the first album composed by a computer and performed by human musicians in 2012. The music is then exported into mp3, MIDI, XML, and PDF for application by the user.
The DarwinTunes project has been running since 2009 (and before that as "Evolectronica") - recently a multiplayer game version of DarwinTunes was demonstrated at science festivals and is now available on the web.
- Evolutionary Computer Music. Miranda, Eduardo Reck; Biles, John Al (Eds.) London: Springer, 2007.
- The Art of Artificial Evolution: A Handbook on Evolutionary Art and Music, Juan Romero and Penousal Machado (eds.), 2007, Springer
- Creative Evolutionary Systems by David W. Corne, Peter J. Bentley
- Capstone Records:Rodney Waschka II - Saint Ambrose
- SpringerLink - Book Chapter
- "Evo* (EvoStar)".
- "GECCO workshops".
- "GECCO 2012".
- "Computer composer honours Turing's centenary". News Scientist. 5 July 2012.
- Evolutionary Computer Music - Multimedia Information Systems Journals, Books & Online Media | Springer
- The Art of Artificial Evolution: A Handbook on Evolutionary Art and Music
- Creative evolutionary systems. Morgan Kaufmann. 2002. p. 576.
- Al Biles' Evolutionary Music Bibliography - also includes pointers to work on evolutionary sound synthesis.
- Evolectronica interactive evolving streaming electronic music
- Melomics Official Site