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Is the World’s Most Intelligent Music Composing Software as Creative as Bach?
If the thought of a Wiimote-controlled robot drum circle sounded vaguely disturbing, prepare yourself. This month, composer and software developer David Cope is set to unveil the first musical works composed by his latest creation, dubbed “Emily Howell.” Emily is a piece of software that many see as the most advanced artificially intelligent music composer. The program is already stirring fierce debate over its supposed ability to generate creations indistinguishable from those composed by the masters–Mozart, Bach and the gang. Miller-McClune went in-depth with this strange and fascinating tale of creativity in the age of artificial intelligence.

Cope first turned to artificial intelligence after experiencing a bad case of composer’s block that prevented him from finishing an opera commission. That led to the creation of a program called Emmy, which could effortlessly replicate the style of Bach or other great human composers, cranking out more compositions in one afternoon than any human could produce in one lifetime.

Emmy infuriated critics and music-lovers alike, especially when Cope asked an audience to distinguish between real Bach and Emmy-composed Bach and few could hear the difference. But many researchers hailed Emmy, and some even suggested that it had successfully passed some level of the “Turing Test,” because people couldn’t differentiate its artificial work from that of humans.

Read more at popsci.com…

 

Top 10 Iconic Video Game Music
The title is pretty self explanatory. Iconic music from iconic games. We all know em, and we all love (or hate) em. There have been so many amazing games with fantastic music over the years that this list was pretty hard to come up with. There are, of course, some no-brainers; but there are also more than a couple of spots that many of you might disagree with. There will be some inclusions and omissions that will no doubt spark debate and many calls of “hey jackass, you don’t know a damn thing about iconic video game music” from you lovely lovely readers.

I can only hope that your love for me is not ruined by any difference of opinions we may have. Especially you sexy console jockeys who may have missed a couple of the classics which never made it to a Nintendo, XBox or Playstation.

Enjoy this run down of positions 10 to 6.

Read the list at 7bitarcade.com…

 

‘Shutter Island’ soundtrack packed with contemporary classical music
As someone who spends much more time watching pre-1960s movies than the latest releases (sorry, but I think they really did make them better in the old days), I may not be the best judge of what’s going on right now when it comes to film scoring. But I think I can safely say that the Shutter Island soundtrack, available from Rhino, breaks new ground in at least one respect — its heavy reliance on contemporary classical music, enough to fill the better part of two CDs.And I’m talking seriously contemporary, as in fabulously atmospheric pieces by John Cage (including “Music for Marcel Duchamp”), Morton Feldman (the otherworldly “Rothko Chapel 2”), Krzysztof Penderecki, Alfred Schnittke, Gyorgy Ligeti, Lou Harrison (a movement from the haunting Suite for Symphonic Strings), John Adams (the eerie, riveting “Christian Zeal and Activity”), and Giacinto Scelsi. For good measure, a youthful work by Gustav Mahler, his darkly lyrical Piano Quartet, is in the mix, too. Pop songs from the likes of Kay Start and Johnny Ray, and a particularly intriguing treatment of Dinah Washington’s “The Bitter Earth,” also figure in the picture, but are outnumbered on the recording.

Read more at BaltimoreSun.com…

 

Erhu soloist added heartfelt tone to ‘Up in the Air’
In the Oscar-nominated film “Up in the Air,” audiences watch the familiar routines of contemporary airline travel while hearing the unfamiliar sounds of an ancient Asian instrument, thanks to erhu virtuoso Karen Hua-Qi Han.

Like the violin, the erhu is a stringed instrument played with a bow, but many of the similarities end there.

“It’s two strings, ‘er’ in Chinese means ‘two,’ ” Han explained. ” ‘Hu’ means it’s not really from China. It was from Tibet and Mongolia, that area, in the beginning. So they called it ‘erhu.’ ”

Read more at LATimes.com…

 

‘Wasn’t my intention’: Air Force song composer apologizes for similarity to The White Stripes
From NationalPost.com….

Yesterday, we told you that The White Stripes were upset about the use of one of their songs, “Fell In Love With A Girl”, being used without their permission in a Super Bowl ad for the US Air Force Reserve.

Today, in an interview with The New York Times, the composer of the song, Kem Kraft, a freelancer hired by the commercial’s production company stated: “I’m sorry it sounds the same. It wasn’t my intention, truly, truly, truly… [if the White Stripes] want to call me and talk to me, as far as I’m concerned, I’m responsible for this. Just me. I’m pretty much a one-man band here. It doesn’t have anything to do with the Air Force. They didn’t know anything, and I didn’t know anything either.”

 

Scoregate: Composer Says He Composed Music for Stargate SG-1, Denied Cue Sheet Credit
From filmmusicmag.com…

Film and television composer Alex Wilkinson says he composed original music that has been used in 30 episodes of the hit television series “Stargate SG-1” and is being denied cue sheet credit for his music by series composer Joel Goldsmith. Goldsmith strongly denies the claim and says Wilkinson’s work on the series was orchestration only.

Current film and television music industry practices generally refer to composing as work that involves creating new musical material, including creating the melody (if any), creating principal lines played by various instruments, specifying major harmonic material, and creating timings for the music including specific changes in the tempo and time signature (meter) to synchronize the music with picture. Orchestration generally refers to creating musical elements to support the original music material from a composer. This can include expanding and enhancing harmonies and voicings, as well as distributing harmonic material, lines and motifs from the composer among sections of the orchestra in order to enhance and maximize the quality of the finished music.

Read more at filmmusicmag.com

 

The top classical CDs of 2009
By Richard Scheinin

My shot at the best classical recordings of 2009 turns out to be top-heavy with pianists and French composers. Funny how that happens: You begin a process with what seems like scrupulous fairness, sorting through hundreds of discs, aiming for balance, trying to demonstrate one’s wide-openness to the whole musical universe. But somehow, the results wind up reflecting personal preferences, anyway.

Still, don’t run away if you’re a violin maven or a Germanophile. There’s Bach and Schumann here, too. There’s Paganini and Puccini. There’s John Adams of Berkeley and Phil Kline of downtown Manhattan. And there’s a 21st option: Michael Tilson Thomas on DVD.

In alphabetical order:

John Adams: “Doctor Atomic Symphony” (Nonesuch): The composer’s symphony, in which he fuses major thematic elements from his 2005 opera “Doctor Atomic,” is dark, bristling and something of a metaphor for menacing inner processes, both psychological and of the laboratory. However, I prefer its companion piece on this disc, “Guide to Strange Places,” which dates to 2001. Like the atomic headliner, “Strange Places” gleams and menaces; in fact, it behaves like a forerunner to the symphony, even hinting at similar thematic materials. But it unfolds more organically. Each work is given a vigorously precise performance by the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, conducted by David Robertson.

Pierre-Laurent Aimard: “Homage a Messiaen” (Deutsche Grammophon): The softest of light in space: They float from Aimard’s keyboard, along with the far-off sounds of bells, of birds or the sudden intrusion of almost ruthless rhythm. Aimard, one of Messiaen’s truest disciples, has gathered up numerous of the composer’s less well-known piano works, including his youthful Preludes, for a recital that stuns with subtle radiance and other-worldly intimations.

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet. “Debussy: Complete Works for Piano, Volume 4” (Chandos): An award-winner in Europe, French pianist Bavouzet is relatively unknown in this country. Go figure. His Debussy series is superb, bringing to bear just the right dosages of brain and heart. Volume 4 takes on “Images,” the first and second series, and the Etudes, Books 1 and 2.

Read more at MercuryNews.com…

 

Newman offers up musical gumbo for Disney film
For Randy Newman, it’s a familiar tune. The score and songs he wrote for Disney’s The Princess and the Frog will probably earn him multiple Oscar nominations.

“I’d like to talk about the Academy for about half an hour, if you don’t mind,” he says.

Maybe — but he won’t single out one song over another as the likeliest awards contender.

“I have no idea. I like Down in New Orleans quite a bit. The waltz turned out very well. But I have no preference or expectation. I had fairly explicit instructions. It’s what I asked for. You know, the type of a song is almost suggested by the assignment itself. It was obvious that (firefly) Ray is Cajun country and that’s the kind of thing that he would get … I often gave them back what they put on the page, essentially.”

The result is a musical gumbo that includes jazz, Dixieland, blues and gospel.

Read more at TorontoSun.com…