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David Cope

David Cope is a composer and Professor of Music at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is the author of Virtual Music: Computer Synthesis of Musical Style (MIT Press, 2004).

Titles by This Author

In this original and provocative study of computational creativity in music, David Cope asks whether computer programs can effectively model creativity—and whether computer programs themselves can create. Defining musical creativity, and distinguishing it from creativity in other arts, Cope presents a series of experimental models that illustrate salient features of musical creativity. He makes the case that musical creativity results from a process that he calls inductive association, and he contends that such a computational process can in fact produce music creatively. Drawing on the work of many other scholars and musicians—including Douglas Hofstadter, Margaret Boden, Selmer Bringsjord, and Kathleen Lennon—Cope departs from the views expressed by most with his contentions that computer programs can create and that those who do not believe this have probably defined creativity so narrowly that even humans could not be said to create.

After examining the foundations of creativity and musical creativity, Cope describes a number of possible models for computationally imitating human creativity in music. He discusses such issues as recombinance and pattern matching, allusions, learning, inference, analogy, musical hierarchy, and influence, and finds that these experimental models solve only selected aspects of creativity. He then describes a model that integrates these different aspects—an inductive-association computational process that can create music. Cope's writing style is lively and nontechnical; the reader needs neither knowledge of computer programming nor specialized computer hardware or software to follow the text.

The computer programs discussed in the text, along with MP3 versions of all the musical examples, are available at the author's website, http://arts.ucsc.edu/faculty/cope, by clicking on the link to the left.

Computer Synthesis of Musical Style

Virtual Music is about artificial creativity. Focusing on the author's Experiments in Musical Intelligence computer music composing program, the author and a distinguished group of experts discuss many of the issues surrounding the program, including artificial intelligence, music cognition, and aesthetics.

The book is divided into four parts. The first part provides a historical background to Experiments in Musical Intelligence, including examples of historical antecedents, followed by an overview of the program by Douglas Hofstadter. The second part follows the composition of an Experiments in Musical Intelligence work, from the creation of a database to the completion of a new work in the style of Mozart. It includes, in sophisticated lay terms, relatively detailed explanations of how each step in the process contributes to the final composition. The third part consists of perspectives and analyses by Jonathan Berger, Daniel Dennett, Bernard Greenberg, Douglas R. Hofstadter, Steve Larson, and Eleanor Selfridge-Field. The fourth part presents the author's responses to these commentaries, as well as his thoughts on the implications of artificial creativity.

The book (and corresponding Web site) includes an appendix providing extended musical examples referred to and discussed in the book, including composers such as Scarlatti, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Puccini, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Debussy, Bartok, and others. It is also accompanied by a CD containing performances of the music in the text.