Gershwyn mixes up a right racket

Gershwyn mixes up a right racket
Roy Rubenstein What is claimed to be the world’s first robotic record producer has been unveiled by the Cybernetics department at the University of Reading. Called Gershwyn, the system is based on a genetic algorithm running on a workstation. It can be applied to any style of music but has been configured for pop music by Professor Kevin Warwick and his team at Reading. Gershwyn starts by using an 18 track recording to produce several random mixes. “Because the initial stabs at mixing are random, some of the sounds are terrible,” says Warwick. The genetic algorithm is applied to the more promising mixes – selected by a human listener – to evolve them in the desired recording style. “You are taking a ‘population’ – in this case the chosen mixes – and improving them in the style of, say, Elton John,” explains Warwick. Elton John’s musical style is captured by averaging the frequency content of his music. This is used to control the direction in which the mixes are evolved. Warwick sees no technical reason why judging the mixes cannot also be performed by computer, using an artificial neural network. He expects such a system to be used as a working aid for, rather than a direct replacement of, record producers. Gershwyn has already mixed its first commercial track. It will be given its first public hearing on BBC1’s Tomorrow’s World later today (Wednesday).


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