Some example Musebot music:
Autechre style noise
The aim of the Musebot project is to establish a playful and experimental platform for research, education and making, that will stimulate interest and advance innovation in MuMe. Above all the Musebot project is a collaborative, creative experiment: we invite you to join us in making autonomous software agents that work together to make original music. These software agents will run on a network of computers creating music together in a “musebot ensemble” for a public audience, at a number of special events throughout 2015 and beyond.
Each software agent should correspond roughly to a single “instrumental part” in a piece of music, like a bassline or a drum beat. If we make these agents smart, then the resulting music will be coherent and continually evolving in interesting ways.
“Why do this?”
There has been a lot of research in MuMe systems, and the results are impressive. But a lot of the creative work is in standalone systems that compose or perform live with human improvisers. This is a daunting task and the results can be opaque. It is hard for people to share their ideas or their code, or work out ways that their systems might be incorporated into creative workflows. Musebots, by contrast, are small modular units that are designed to be shared and studied by others. By making collaboration central, the Musebot project forces us to be transparent in how our systems work.
“Is it a robot jam?”
We’d prefer to think of it like this: imagine composing music in any Digital Audio Workstation, but then replacing each of the tracks with an autonomous music-making software agent, that has to work with the other tracks to make the final piece of music. It’s a study into intelligent musical self-organisation. “Human musicians having a jam” can make for a useful metaphor, but computers can do things differently, so we prefer not to fixate on that metaphor. Either way, getting software agents to work together requires thinking about how music is constructed, and working out shared paradigms for its automation.
Yes, we want nothing less than to advance music AI, but there’s a lighter side… we want to explore the full range of creative expression musebot ensembles have to offer. If you have a bit of experience using one of the common computer music environments such as MaxMSP, PD, Processing or SuperCollider you’ll be able to make a simple musebot quickly by adapting our examples. You can download any number of musebots and the musebot conductor (a custom program that manages the musebots using network communication), and set up your own musebot ensemble.
- The Musebot Specification, a collaborative document found here, that describes how to make a musebot.
- The Musebot Developer Kit, a git repository, hosted on Bitbucket, containing the source code and example templates, can be found here.
- The Musebot WebDAV, containing the executables for all musebots and conductors (Macintosh and Windows versions), can be found here.
- The Musebot Group on Google can be found here.
- The Musebot Repository on BitBucket, which contains the source code for musebots and conductors, can be found here.
- For some of the background discussion related to the project and its current state, see the following papers:
- O. Bown et al. (2013), “The Musical Metacreation Weekend: Challenges arising from the live presentation of musically metacreative systems”, in Proceedings of Artificial Intelligence in Interactive Digital Entertainment (AIIDE’13) workshops, Boston, October 14-15th, 2013.
- O. Bown et al. (2015), “Manifesto for a Musebot Ensemble: A platform for live interactive performance between multiple autonomous musical agents”, in Proceedings of the 21st International Symposium on Electronic Art, Vancouver, August 14-19, 2015.
- A. Eigenfeldt et al. (2015), “Collaborative Composition with Creative Systems: Reflections on the First Musebot Ensemble”, in Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Computational Creativity, Park City, June 29-July 2, 2015.
- A. Eigenfeldt (2016), “Musebots at One Year: A Review”, in Proceedings of 4th International Workshop on Musical Metacreation, Paris, June 27, 2016.