Can computers make music?

From the bleeps of 1950s mainframes to Daft Punk and Hot Chip, computers have been part of music-making for over half a century. But can a computer actually compose a tune on its own?

One person exploring the issue is Eduardo Miranda, Professor in Computer Music at Plymouth, who says the answer is yes – up to a point.

“Yes, computers can compose interesting music automatically. But in order to compose, they have to be programmed with rules and procedures, which are mostly derived from compositional methods that are well known to musicians – harmony progression, melody construction, rhythmic structuring, and so on.

Computers are excellent at following rules. Thus, computers are good at composing good imitations of existing music. However, computers are not very creative to invent their own music.

Eduardo Miranda

“Personally, I am more interested in using them to enhance my creativity, for example programming them to do things that have nothing to do with music theory, and then seeing what happens and working with it. So in this case you could say the machine is acting as a creative partner."

Listen to a playlist of computer music compiled by Professor Eduardo Miranda.

Computer generated music

Narrating Enterprise

In this video Eduardo talks about his research at the University and some of his computer-generated compositions.
Eduardo Miranda

Eduardo's Vimeo channel

This channel features a few examples from Eduardo's diverse repertoire, illustrating various stages of his career and featuring recorded performances.
Listen to more of Eduardo's compositions