Project seeks to map music's magic - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Project seeks to map music's magic

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

In the near future, when you want to hear a certain song or style of music, you may not ask a friend or even a DJ for advice. Instead, your computer will find what you like and maybe even perform for you. Music and technology have merged.

Just asked the band Poleshadow. If the makeup and mustache don't give it away, the music might: Poleshadow is a Florida band beating to a different drummer.

"This is Bro-bot. He really doesn't have any ambitions or goals. His real only interest is to be a percussive instrument," explained Captain Kissez.

Bro-bot outsourcers the job of musician. He plays programmed beats written by the band. It's computer-controlled music.

A computer can listen to music, too and even catalog it in to groups in a way not so different than a record store. It can even look deeper in a way science has uncovered the secrets to human life. It's a process called the Music Genome Project

"It is a very valuable and very complex search engine because there are many, many variables. Three hundred fifty variables in pop music," said music producer Mark J. Dye.

Think of it as discovering music's DNA.

"Which is fairly complex when you consider that human DNA is far more simplistic than that as far as chromosomes," Dye said.

The practical application is loud and pumping through laptop speakers and headphones in the music app Pandora.

Type in a favorite song, and the computer makes an entire playlist of other songs it knows you'll be into based on the music DNA of that favorite song.

It's smashing those old music genres titles like top 40, rock and country.

"I think it's very democratizing because now you can have people's interests be valued in their own personal level. Whereas before they may have been lumped into a larger statistical category, for example people under the age of 30 who are female. But now you can have more targeted interests which I think is a good thing," said University of Tampa Music Chair Bradford Blackburn.

It's enough to wonder, could the machines take over the charts?

If a computer knows what you like and can play how you like, could it write what you like? After all, there's a formula to most every song.

"It's amazing what we can do with twelve notes and basically four different rhythms," Dye said.

The Music Genome Program recognizes them all. Dye believes computer created hits could happen.

"Absolutely. Of course the computer is being programmed by a human being who knew how to do it. So generally speaking a computer is just mimicking what a human being is telling it to do," he said.

But if you ask the band that employs a robot drummer it's a different answer.

"I think music is such a magical thing. You feel something when you hear music and make music that you can't describe. You can't really break it down to science in my opinion," said singer Apple Butter.

The Music Genome Program is mostly a closed system run by a private business, but a lot of the cataloging and grouping requires human input.

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