Menu
AI system reads novels, writes music for them

AI system reads novels, writes music for them

Works are assigned emotional density scores and interpreted in major or minor keys

What would "Alice in Wonderland" sound like if it were set to music? And what if the composer were a computer?

It's not something you might think of putting on your MP3 player, but researchers have trained an artificial intelligence system to read works of fiction and create music based on the texts. TransProse is a project that uses computers to translate literature into music.

First, the system reads the text of a work such as "Peter Pan." Based on word scans, it assigns "densities" of two different states, positive or negative, and eight different emotions -- joy, sadness, anger, disgust, anticipation, surprise, trust and fear.

Then, it sets about composing a musical piece that chronologically follows the novel, broken up into beginning, early middle, late middle, and end parts.

The "emotion density data," as the researchers describe it, is used to determine the tempo, key, notes, octaves and other musical variables. Shorter notes, for instance, correspond with more emotionally dense areas of the narrative.

So what does literature-inspired AI music sound like?

"The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes," the detective classic by Arthur Conan Doyle, was assigned "trust" as its highest emotion, followed by "fear."

It's a simple, pretty but fairly bland piano composition in C major with a few trills that might evoke Mozart. But listeners expecting a hint of Holmes' criminal adversaries will be disappointed.

Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" is rendered as a brooding progression in C minor with "fear" and "sadness" as its themes. It may capture the atmosphere of the narrator's journey into colonial Africa, but it's not exactly a moving work.

"The current version of TransProse is just the beginning of our investigation and we don't claim to be making beautiful music at this point," Hannah Davis of New York University wrote in an email.

"This iteration is a starting point to see if we could programmatically translate the basic emotions of a novel into a musical piece that holds the same basic emotional feeling, which I think has been pretty successful."

TransProse grew out of a thesis project by Davis and a collaboration with Saif Mohammad, a researcher at the National Research Council Canada who had created a word-emotion lexicon.

The pair presented a paper on their work at a conference in Sweden last month, and plan to explore the technology by representing characters in novels as motifs in music.

"There are many creative ways in which going from text to music and from music to text can be used," Mohammad wrote in an email.

"One practical application might be in online book stores where a customer can click on a button to listen to the emotional tone of a book before deciding to buy it."

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags popular science

Slideshows

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Reseller News looks back on a tumultuous 12 months for the New Zealand channel, assessing the fallout from a year of sizeable industry change. Whether it be local or global mergers and acquisitions, distribution deals or job changes, the channel that started the year differs somewhat to the one set to finish it - Reseller News assesses the key moments that made 2016.​

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016
​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

Hewlett Packard Enterprise honoured its top performing Kiwi partners at the second running of its HPE Partner Awards in New Zealand, held at a glitzy ceremony in Auckland. Recognising excellence across eight categories - from distributors to resellers - the tech giant celebrated its first year as a standalone company, following its official split from HP in 2015.

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel
Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix recently took to the seas for a Christmas Cruise around Sydney Harbour with its Australia and New Zealand staff, customers and partners to celebrate a stellar year for the vendor. With the sun out, they were all smiles and mingled over drinks and food.

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise
Show Comments