Artificial Intelligence and Musical Creativity: Computing Beethoven’s Tenth

I explore creativity and ask whether computers are capable now, or in the future, of producing creative works. I focus on creativity in musical composition, and within this field I focus on the work of David Cope at UC Santa Cruz. He has developed a program, Experiments in Musical Intelligence (EMI) that can take the works of a given composer and produce new works in that style.

I look at various definitions of creativity and methods people have used to study creativity over the years. Then I go to some composers and see what they think of EMI’s music. I take a look at the algorithms under EMI’s hood, and look at other algorithms people have used to compose music. I review other fields where algorithms have been applied to creativity, and see if any of these algorithms resemble how humans actually think. Then I test the definition of creativity as unconscious calculation and talk to the chess AI experts behind Deep Blue and other chess software.

Finally, I discuss the importance of embodied cognition and what it means to understand something. I conclude that computers cannot be creative because they don’t understand the meaning in what they do.


About Matthew Hutson

Matthew Hutson is a freelance science writer in New York City, where he covers psychology and artificial intelligence among other things. He’s written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Wired, Science, Scientific American, and other publications, and is the author of The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking. He has an Sc.B. in cognitive neuroscience from Brown University and an S.M. in science writing from MIT. Twitter: @SilverJacket Thesis: Artificial Intelligence and Musical Creativity: Computing Beethoven’s Tenth


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