“Composer David Cope has a knack for describing music in the least romantic terms possible. Whenever Mozart heard something, Cope says, “He was able to digest it and store it in his database. He could recombine it with other things so that the output would be hardly recognizable.” Mozart has been called many things—plagiarist, potty-mouth, politician—but rarely do you hear him accused of being a computer scientist.
There’s a reason Cope talks about composing this way: He is the inventor of the world’s most musically creative computer program, whose latest album came out a few weeks ago. Cope has been writing software to help him compose music for 30 years, and he long ago reached the point where most people can’t tell the difference between real Bach and the Bach-like compositions his computer can produce. Audiences have been moved to tears by melodies created by algorithms. And yet, it’s not exactly that Cope has created a computer than can write music like a human. The way he sees it, it’s that humans compose like computers.”