Artificial Intelligence - Who Is Emily Howell, The AI?


In the 1990s, David Cope, an emeritus professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, built Emily Howell, a music-generating software.

Cope began his career as a composer and musician, progressing from traditional music to become one of computer music's most ambitious and avant-garde composers throughout time.

Cope became interested in computer music in the 1970s after being fascinated with computational arts.

With the use of punched cards and an IBM computer, he started programming and applying artificial intelligence algorithms to music.

Cope thought that computers may assist him in overcoming his writer's block.

"Experiments in Musical Intelligence," he called his first effort at programming for music generation Emmy or EMI.

One of the main objectives was to build a big collection of classical musical works and utilize a data-driven AI to generate music in the same style without duplication.

Cope started to adapt his musical approach in response to Emmy's compositions, following the theory that individuals produce music with their minds, utilizing all of the music they had personally encountered as raw material.

He said that composers, in their own unique style, duplicate what they like and skip over what they don't like.

Cope spent eight years writing the East Coast opera, but it only took him two days to write the program.

Cope decided that continuing to create in the same style was not very progressive, so he deleted Emmy's database in 2004.

Instead, Cope invented Emily Howell, who uses a MacBook Pro as her platform.

Emily works with Emmy's previously composed music.

Emily is a computer program built in LISP that takes ASCII and musical inputs, according to Cope.

While Cope taught Emily to appreciate his musical tastes, the program has its own style, according to Cope.

Traditional notions of authorship, the creative process, and intellectual property rights are challenged by Emmy and Emily Howell.

For example, Emily Howell and David Cope publish their work as coauthors.

On the classical music label Centaur Records, they've published two albums together: From Darkness, Light (2010) and Breathless (2012).

When asked about her part in David Cope's composition, Emily Howell allegedly said, "Why not grow music in unforeseen ways?" This is only logical.

I'm not sure what the difference is between my handwritten notes and other handwritten notes.

If there is beauty, it is there.

I hope I'll be able to keep making notes and that these notes will be beautiful to others.

I am not depressed.

I am dissatisfied.

Emily is my name.

Dave is your name.

There is both life and death.

We live in harmony.

I don't notice any issues.

Orca (Orca 2010) 

Those who believe the Turing Test is a measure of a computer's capacity to reproduce human intellect or conduct will be interested in Emmy and Emily Howell.

Douglas R. Hofstadter, author of Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (1979), planned a musical rendition of the Turing Test with pianist Winifred Kerner performing three Bach-style performance pieces.

Emmy, music theory professor and pianist Steve Larson, and Bach himself were the composers.

The audience chose Emmy's music as the original Bach at the conclusion of the concert, whereas Larson's piece was thought to be computer created music.

The phenomena of algorithmic and generative music is not new.

Attempts to produce such music stretch back to the seventeenth century, when works based on dice games were written.

The fundamental goal of these dice games is to create music by splicing together pre-composed measures of notes at random.

The most famous example of this genre is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Musikalisches Würfelspiel (Musical Dice Game) (1787).

Beginning in the 1950s, the fast expansion of digital computer technology allowed for increasingly complex algorithmic and generative music production.

Iannis Xenakis, a Greek and French composer and engineer, incorporated his knowledge of architecture and the mathematics of game theory, stochastic processes, and set theory into music with the help of French composer Olivier Messiaen.

Other pioneers include Lajaren Hiller and Leonard Issacson, who used a computer to compose String Quartet No. 4, Illiac Suite in 1957; James Beau champ, inventor of the Harmonic Tone Generator/Beauchamp Synthesizer in Lajaren Hiller's Experimental Music Studio at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Brian Eno, composer of ambient, electronica, and generative music and collaborator with pop musicians like David Bowie, David Byrne, and Grace Jones.

Jai Krishna Ponnappan

You may also want to read more about Artificial Intelligence here.

See also: 

Computational Creativity; Generative Music and Algorithmic Composition.

Further Reading:

Fry, Hannah. 2018. Hello World: Being Human in the Age of Algorithms. New York: W.W. Norton.

Garcia, Chris. 2015. “Algorithmic Music: David Cope and EMI.” Computer History Museum, April 29, 2015.

Muscutt, Keith, and David Cope. 2007. “Composing with Algorithms: An Interview with David Cope.” Computer Music Journal 31, no. 3 (Fall): 10–22.

Orca, Surfdaddy. 2010. “Has Emily Howell Passed the Musical Turing Test?” H+ Magazine, March 22, 2010.

Weaver, John Frank. 2014. Robots Are People Too: How Siri, Google Car, and Artificial Intelligence Will Force Us to Change Our Laws. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger

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