Computers create musical

  • March 4, 2016
Computers create musical

Alex Davies worked on the world's first computer-generated musical.

A Gates Cambridge alumnus has worked on the world’s first computer-generated musical.

The musical, Beyond the Fence, opened in London’s West End on 22nd February and runs until 5th March.

Commissioned by SkyArts, it is based on a big data statistical study of what makes a Broadway hit.

Alex Davies [2010] and colleagues in the Machine Learning Group at Cambridge University analysed the data, which included the emotional structure of a work, the number of actors involved and whether or not romance was important. Alex and a colleague worked on generating lyrics. About 15% of the lyrics in the musical were computer generated.

They used this data to develop a model of what was most likely to result in a successful musical. Researchers at Goldsmiths, University of London and the Complutense University of Madrid, took this model and generated characters and a plot, again using computers. The score was also written by computers under the aegis of Dr Nick Collins of Durham University and others.

Beyond the Fence is set in 1982 at the Greenham Common peace camp and involves a soldier finding true love through learning how to understand a child. Alex is currently a Machine Learning Specialist at ‎Google.

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