The musical 'genomes' generate melodies that have a superficial coherence, with all the dryness and greyness that suggests
Iamus's Hello World! for piano, clarinet, and violin, ought to pose existential questions about the integrity of musical composition, to blow holes in the fallacy that every note a human composer writes comes from a wellspring of emotion and deep thought unique to our consciousness, and to show the difference between human genius and automatically generated algorithms in modernist composition is effectively nought.
Now, maybe I'm falling victim to a perceptual bias against a faceless computer program but I just don't think Hello World! is especially impressive.
To me, it's precisely the musical "genomes", the backbone of the way Iamus programs and produces its pieces, that are the problem. It sounds like it's slavishly manipulating pitch cells to generate melodies that have a kind of superficial coherence and relationship to one another, with all the dryness and greyness that suggests, despite the expressive commitment of the three performers. But the material of Hello World! (there's no equivalent of the humorous exclamation mark in the music, more's the pity) is so unmemorable, and the way it's elaborated so workaday, that the piece leaves no distinctive impression.
All that said, Iamus is more successful than previous attempts to produce generic musical compositions from computers, even if for convincing proof, we'll need to hear what the London Symphony Orchestra's recording sounds like. The real paradox of Iamus is why it's being used to attempt to fool humanity in this way. If you've got a computer program of this sophistication, why bother trying to compose pieces that a human, and not a very good human at that – well, not a compositional genius anyway – could write? Why not use it to find new realms of sound, new kinds of musical ideas?
Iamus, in fact, is all too human, limited by the parameters its programmers have defined for it in they way they have asked it to compose. Composers have always used systems and technologies to extend their musical thinking, from Bach's canons to Boulez's serialism, from John Cage's chance operations to Karlheinz Stockhausen's electronics, but it's always the quality of the material you put in and the questions you ask that determine the quality of the musical result. Iamus, on that score, may have a long way to go.
"I am very happy with the ease and versatility with which I can share my content with my audience, clients and business partners alike."