Technology 3 min read

Generative Music: Personalized Music Experience



Generative music apps promise to help you sleep better, boost your productivity, or simply relax through personalized original music.

Some apps like Apple Music and Spotify Discover Weekly offer personalized playlists based on a listener’s taste.

But you can grow tired of listening to the same curated playlists over and over again.

What if there were a way to produce original music forever? Fortunately, there is generative music, which can provide a whole new listening experience.

What is Generative Music?

Generative music is a type of music created by a system and which is ever-changing. Think of it like a radio station that never plays the same song twice.

Musician and producer Brian Eno popularized the term. He also invented the term “ambient music” to describe his album Ambient 1: Music for Airports, released in 1978.

In his diary, A Year With Swollen Appendices, Eno speaks of generative music.

“One of my long-term interests has been the invention of ‘machines’ and ‘systems’ that could produce musical and visual experiences… [T]he point of them was to make music with materials and processes I specified, but in combinations and interactions that I did not,” Eno wrote.

For Eno, music can be categorized into three types: live, recorded, and generative. He also notes that the latter takes the best of the two first music types.

It’s always different, like live music, and free from space-time constraints like recorded music.

According to Eno’s definition, there are two criteria for music to qualify as generative.

First, it must always be original by never repeating itself exactly. And second, it must last forever.

It’s the combination of the two conditions that would result in an endless stream of original music.

The satisfaction of only one of these criteria doesn’t lead to a creation that’s even close to actual generative music.

You can play the same tune forever, and that can’t still be counted as generative. You can also generate random notes without repeating for some time.

Eno has collaborated in the creation of several generative music apps for iOS and Android, such as Bloom and Bloom: 10 Worlds, Scape, Reflection, and others.

One of the approaches to designing systems that produce generative sound is based on the idea of “randomness.” These systems rely on data, like user preferences, interaction, and mood, to achieve randomness.

As to data crunching, neural networks can come in handy.

Read More: Researchers Use Dominant Notes To Store Data In Music

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Zayan Guedim

Trilingual poet, investigative journalist, and novelist. Zed loves tackling the big existential questions and all-things quantum.

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