Computer scientists have long used analytics to determine the ’emotions’ express on Twitter. Now, the same technology has been used by two researchers to make an algorithm read novels and then compose music about them.
The algorithm essentially takes in the text of a given novel and divides it into different parts. These divisions include the beginning, early middle, late middle and the end. It creates melodies corresponding to each of these parts.
The key question is, how does the algorithm create these melodies? For this, we will have to go back to the researchers behind this project. One of them is a programmer while the other is a musician. Both of them helped the algorithm identify different kinds of emotions automatically. These include trust, fear, anger, disgust, surprise and others.
Next, the researchers told the algorithm how to respond when encountering each of these emotions. For instance, they assigned higher, happier octaves for the sentiments of joy and trust while untoward emotions such as sadness, anger or fear were to be expressed through lower octaves.
The result of this exercise is very interesting. The algorithm read a number of notable novels such as Lord of the Flies and Heart of Darkness and composed music about them. The ‘Lord of the Flies’ music, for instance, begins with an ominous brooding, quite apt to the overall theme of the novel itself. Although it gets somewhat happier in the middle, which isn’t how a reader would view the book, but the overall controlled grimness of the tone sustains the reflection of the novel.
The other symphony, that of the ‘Heart of Darkness’ is more aptly dark. A human rendering would certainly come up with a darker composition but coming from an automated process, this music is still extraordinary.