AAAI Publications, Eighth Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment Conference

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Autonomy in Music-Generating Systems
Oliver Roland Bown, Aengus Martin

Last modified: 2012-10-07


The word autonomy is often used in the discussion of software-based music-generating systems. Whilst the term conveys a very clear concept — the sense of self-determination of a system — attempts to formalise autonomy are at an early stage, and the term is subject to a range of interpretations when practically applied. We consider how the evaluation of music-generating systems will be enhanced by a clearer understanding of autonomy and its application to music. We discuss existing definitions and approaches to quantifying autonomy and consider, through a series of examples, the information that is required in order to make precise formal judgements about autonomy, and the identification of relevant levels at which the principle of autonomy applies in music. We conclude that automated measures can supplement human evaluation of autonomy, but that (a) automated measures must be supported by sound reasoning about the features and timescales used in the measurement, and (b) they are improved by a having knowledge of the internal working of the system, rather than taking a black box approach. We consider multi-dimensional representations of system behaviour that may capture a richer sense of the notion of autonomy. Finally, we propose an approach to automatically probing music systems as a means of determining an autonomy `portrait'.


autonomy, music composition, live algorithms

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