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Musicians algorithmically generate "every possible melody" and release them to the public domain


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My daughter just texted me the link to this article and asked me what I thought. Unfortunately, I can not repeat what I said in reply without breaking the site rules... while their intent (attempting to prevent musicians from getting sued) may be admirable, it also could possibly stop songwriters from exercising their own creativity and writing their own new songs, and remove another one of the major income streams that many musicians rely upon to make a living.

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/wxepzw/musicians-algorithmically-generate-every-possible-melody-release-them-to-public-domain

What's next? Algorithmically writing every possible book and magazine article, artificially creating every possible movie and TV script, algorithmically creating every painting and photo and releasing all of those things to the public domain? Sorry.... I do not like this one bit because I think it could have considerable unexpected negative consequences for the arts. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject - pro or con. :snax: 

 

 

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Man, their monkey budget is going to be astronomical!

My math teacher never sounded melodic.    Phil, do you want me to say it and you can forgive me?    This goes back to my thought that there is no "mystery" to the world and things

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11 minutes ago, Phil O'Keefe said:

My daughter just texted me the link to this article and asked me what I thought. Unfortunately, I can not repeat what I said in reply without breaking the site rules... while their intent (attempting to prevent musicians from getting sued) may be admirable, it also could possibly stop songwriters from exercising their own creativity and writing their own new songs, and remove another one of the major income streams that many musicians rely upon to make a living.

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/wxepzw/musicians-algorithmically-generate-every-possible-melody-release-them-to-public-domain

What's next? Algorithmically writing every possible book and magazine article, artificially creating every possible movie and TV script, algorithmically creating every painting and photo and releasing all of those things to the public domain? Sorry.... I do not like this one bit because I think it could have considerable unexpected negative consequences for the arts. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject - pro or con.

. :snax: 

 

 

As the saying goes....

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions"

.I see this as opening a big of worms better left closed and will likely cause more trouble than it solves.

Just because something can be done doesn't mean it should be.

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27 minutes ago, NOS68 said:

I see this as opening a big of worms better left closed and will likely cause more trouble than it solves.

 

And it may not even accomplish what they were trying to achieve - the end of lawsuits over copyright claims. That will still have to be adjudicated by the courts, and unless I miss my guess, that is going to be one big long-lasting can of very expensive litigious legal worms, and they are going to be crawling around for several years, if not longer.

Here's something else to consider: If they generated every possible melody in a one-octave range, how do they know that their own copyright claims don't infringe upon previously filed claims for lesser-known compositions? That is only one of the possible issues that they may not have considered going into this - they themselves may be sued for infringement and false copyright ownership claims. They have no right to make a claim for the same melodies that are already covered by copyrights owned by other parties.

And furthermore, this - if allowed to stand - would create a new world of musical haves and have-nots; with only those with previously registered copyrights being allowed legal protection, while everyone else going forward would be prevented from obtaining similar protections for their own compositions.  

 

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37 minutes ago, Phil O'Keefe said:

My daughter just texted me the link to this article and asked me what I thought. Unfortunately, I can not repeat what I said in reply without breaking the site rules... while their intent (attempting to prevent musicians from getting sued) may be admirable, it also could possibly stop songwriters from exercising their own creativity and writing their own new songs, and remove another one of the major income streams that many musicians rely upon to make a living.

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/wxepzw/musicians-algorithmically-generate-every-possible-melody-release-them-to-public-domain

What's next? Algorithmically writing every possible book and magazine article, artificially creating every possible movie and TV script, algorithmically creating every painting and photo and releasing all of those things to the public domain? Sorry.... I do not like this one bit because I think it could have considerable unexpected negative consequences for the arts. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject - pro or con. :snax: 

 

 

Man, their monkey budget is going to be astronomical! :freak:

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Although my thought here wouldn't apply to composed-but-not-recorded music, here's what I've been thinking about the pop music lawsuit business forever:

Ever since we began recording music that's for sale, every recorded production imbued the music with more than just a collection of notes and rhythms. Each recording has a specific sound to it. For rock music, pop, hip hop, etc. etc., I think the "intellectual property" should relate to the recording. If a copyright pertained to a recording (and/or to the author connected to a specific recording) then these algorithmic* melodies would be meaningless. 

Connecting copyright to specific recordings instead of writing would cut down on any revenue made from going to bust people who are profiting off performing your music, but 1) if you're famous, people aren't going to pay to see a cover band and be just as happy as if they had seen you perform the music, and 2) is anybody really going around and policing covers anyway?

*One could also add to legislation that no music arrived at by automation can be copyrighted.... Though I guess that would open up a can of worms too for those setting their auto-arpeggiators to random.

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are there not infinite possible melodies, in theory? unless there's some limitation on MIDI tech, or a practical implication of it being impossible to play more extreme melodies as you approach the asymptote of complexity.. you could always add to the complexity. i haven't watched the creator's video yet but the article only explained that they categorically played through a finite number of melodies.

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Here's a TEDx talk that one of the two guys behind this (a coder, a musician and a lawyer) gave on the subject:

 

 

While I think his heart is in the right place, I still think there are some serious flaws with some of his thinking.

He's arguing that melodies are nothing more than math, and that melodies have always existed, and as such they have limited to no copyright due to being "facts."

He further argues that the limited number of notes (first he says only eight, then expands that to twelve to include the sharps and flats in a single octave, then acknowledges later that it could conceivably be expanded to include the entire piano keyboard, as well as all possible rhythms) means that there are a much more limited amount of possible melodies than there are words / sentences / paragraphs.

There's a problem with that argument IMO. Practically everything can be represented mathematically. The entire universe is basically math. According to physicists, there is only a finite amount of ways that matter / atoms can be arranged. Everything is finite. Extend the universe far enough, and everything - including you and I - repeats eventually, and in an infinite amount of variations thereof. Literally everything must have infinite repeats and permutations in the infinite universe that many physicists think exists... and that doesn't even begin to take into account the possibility of the multiverse... So if melodies are finite and thus must "run out" and repeat eventually, so does everything else - and therefore IMO nothing could be subject to copyrights if you follow his logic to its logical conclusion. 

 

 

 

 

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13 minutes ago, arcadesonfire said:

Connecting copyright to specific recordings instead of writing would cut down on any revenue made from going to bust people who are profiting off performing your music, but 1) if you're famous, people aren't going to pay to see a cover band and be just as happy as if they had seen you perform the music, and 2) is anybody really going around and policing covers anyway?

What about songwriters?

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22 minutes ago, arcadesonfire said:

Although my thought here wouldn't apply to composed-but-not-recorded music, here's what I've been thinking about the pop music lawsuit business forever:

Ever since we began recording music that's for sale, every recorded production imbued the music with more than just a collection of notes and rhythms. Each recording has a specific sound to it. For rock music, pop, hip hop, etc. etc., I think the "intellectual property" should relate to the recording. If a copyright pertained to a recording (and/or to the author connected to a specific recording) then these algorithmic* melodies would be meaningless. 

Connecting copyright to specific recordings instead of writing would cut down on any revenue made from going to bust people who are profiting off performing your music, but 1) if you're famous, people aren't going to pay to see a cover band and be just as happy as if they had seen you perform the music, and 2) is anybody really going around and policing covers anyway?

*One could also add to legislation that no music arrived at by automation can be copyrighted.... Though I guess that would open up a can of worms too for those setting their auto-arpeggiators to random.

 

What you're discussing does apply, at least to some degree. Sound recordings can be / are covered by copyright (Form SR), and that, along with the arrangement (if new) are the only things that apply under copyright laws to recordings of works in the public domain. 

Even if you tried to recreate a recording "note for note" and sonically as precisely as possible (something I think is a fun and sometimes frustrating hobby and a great learning tool) the distinct vibrations that are picked up and etched into wax (or whatever) are going to differ in some ways, so I do acknowledge there are differences in one recorded version of a song from another - even if done by the same people in the same room, one take right after the other. At least until you go out far enough in the universe and the compression and rarefaction of the air molecules and the mic positioning HAS to repeat precisely due to the limited amounts of ways that atoms / matter can be configured... 😉 

 

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16 minutes ago, NOS68 said:

What about songwriters?

That’s why I had said “and/or to the author connected to a specific recording” just above. I suppose that if there are songwriters who are writing but aren’t connected to a specific recording of their work, then my proposition is troublesome—though no less troublesome than what the folks in the OP are trying.

And like I said, my suggestion really wouldn’t work for COMPOSERS of music that isn’t intended for a specific performer.

I’m largely speaking out of my rear end here, but still just trying to express how I feel like for most pop/rock/country/techno/etc from the past 60ish years, the recordings offer a better signature of the person holding the copyright than do the notes spelled out on a staff. 

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1 hour ago, NOS68 said:

As the saying goes....

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions"

.I see this as opening a big of worms better left closed and will likely cause more trouble than it solves.

Just because something can be done doesn't mean it should be.

certainly doesn't require good intentions.

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4 minutes ago, arcadesonfire said:

I suppose that if there are songwriters who are writing but aren’t connected to a specific recording of their work, then my proposition is troublesome

 

Depends on how you define "recording" - under copyright law (as the guy points out in his TEDx talk) you're automatically granted copyright as soon as something is permanently affixed to a medium. That means recorded to tape / HDD / SSD, written down on score paper, carved as musical notes into a rock - whatever. Registering your copyright with the LOC only proves that your creation existed as of a particular date, which provides some independent proof of your copyright, as well as certain legal rights that you may otherwise lose without registration.

You can't copyright an idea in your head, no matter how fully formed that idea may be - you have to write it down / affix it in some manner, and that includes audio recordings of the composition. 

 

 

 

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My math teacher never sounded melodic. 

 

Phil, do you want me to say it and you can forgive me? 

 

This goes back to my thought that there is no "mystery" to the world and things anymore. All is right there, with no real seek and discover. 

 

Bildo looks at the ground and shakes his head...

 

Can we get him to generate every reply guido will make? 

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55 minutes ago, arcadesonfire said:

That’s why I had said “and/or to the author connected to a specific recording” just above. I suppose that if there are songwriters who are writing but aren’t connected to a specific recording of their work, then my proposition is troublesome—though no less troublesome than what the folks in the OP are trying.

And like I said, my suggestion really wouldn’t work for COMPOSERS of music that isn’t intended for a specific performer.

I’m largely speaking out of my rear end here, but still just trying to express how I feel like for most pop/rock/country/techno/etc from the past 60ish years, the recordings offer a better signature of the person holding the copyright than do the notes spelled out on a staff. 

Isn't it fairly commonplace in county music for songwriters to wri6for nobody imparticular?

My knowledge here is very slim so I like you, even more so I'm sure, am talking outa my rear too.

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8 minutes ago, NOS68 said:

Isn't it fairly commonplace in county music for songwriters to wri6for nobody imparticular?

 

I think it's just as common for them to write with a specific artist in mind; in my experience, both approaches are pretty common for non-artist songwriters. Publishers will also sometimes do multiple demo versions of a single song in order to try to demo the song in a style that is similar to the particular artist(s) they're trying to pitch the song to. 

 

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2 hours ago, arcadesonfire said:

 

 

Oh crud - I used that exact same line in my review of the EHX Blurst! :eekphil: 

It was unconscious plagiarism your Honor, I swear!!!

Seriously, while it's technically possible I saw that episode of The Simpsons and have forgotten all about it, I don't recall ever seeing it before now (I missed a lot of episodes), and I was actually thinking of Dickens and punning off of the name of the EHX pedal (and the opening line of A Tale of Two Cities) when I wrote that.

I guess we must really be living in the age of wisdom, and the age of foolishness after all... :lol:  I better shut up now and invoke my Fifth Amendment rights before they haul me off to the brig... :cop: 

 

 

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Well, there you go; hawking the various synth products - instead of instruments - and then feel stripped naked by the digital boyz when they take their toyz one-up on you. Can't have it both ways. The human mind is being supplanted by algorithms of itself by people who have chosen to cast off the raw experience of being human. Technology did that. Real musicianship is over.

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55 minutes ago, Phil O'Keefe said:

 

Oh crud - I used that exact same line in my review of the EHX Blurst! :eekphil: 

It was unconscious plagiarism your Honor, I swear!!!

Seriously, while it's technically possible I saw that episode of The Simpsons and have forgotten all about it, I don't recall ever seeing it before now (I missed a lot of episodes), and I was actually thinking of Dickens and punning off of the name of the EHX pedal (and the opening line of A Tale of Two Cities) when I wrote that.

I guess we must really be living in the age of wisdom, and the age of foolishness after all... :lol:  I better shut up now and invoke my Fifth Amendment rights before they haul me off to the brig... :cop: 

 

 

Hahahaha! That’s great.... I watched the first ten seasons’ episodes constantly, over and over and over again from age 11 to ~25, so they’re branded on my brain. But I’m guessing the Simpsons weren’t the first to make a “best of times” joke like that. Maybe EHX was even inspired by that line! 

And look at the bright side, now you’ve got me reading that review. 

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1 hour ago, NOS68 said:

Isn't it fairly commonplace in county music for songwriters to wri6for nobody imparticular?

My knowledge here is very slim so I like you, even more so I'm sure, am talking outa my rear too.

Right. That’s the downfall of my 21st-century, rock-o-centric line of thinking. Though... I imagine those songwriters are all writing lyrics with their melodies, so they shouldn’t be threatened by the “infinite open source melodies” in the OP, nor should they be threatened by the stupid rhythm/melody lawsuits like those that get big headlines. 

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