Robot Piano
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Dr. Jeffrey Lupker

The Origins of AI Music

March 15, 2023


Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been making waves in various industries, and the world of music is no exception. As technology continues to evolve, AI-generated music has become an exciting and innovative field, with numerous artists, researchers, and tech companies exploring its potential. In this blog post, we will take a look at the origins of AI music, its development, and its impact on the music industry.

The Early Days of AI Music:

The history of AI-generated music can be traced back to the 1950s when computer scientists began experimenting with the idea of using algorithms to create music. The Illiac Suite, a groundbreaking piece composed in 1957 by Lejaren Hiller and Leonard Isaacson, is often cited as the first significant example of AI-generated music. The Illiac Suite was created using an early computer called the ILLIAC I and was based on a set of rules derived from traditional music theory. In the following decades, researchers continued to develop new algorithms and techniques for generating music using computers. One notable example is David Cope's "Experiments in Musical Intelligence" (EMI) project in the 1980s. EMI was designed to analyze and emulate the style of various classical composers, creating original compositions that resembled the works of Bach, Mozart, and others.

Staccato AI - Illiac I
Memory drum of the ILLIAC I

The Rise of Modern AI Music:

The advent of modern AI and machine learning techniques in the 21st century has revolutionized the field of AI-generated music. Deep learning algorithms, such as neural networks, have enabled computers to learn and create music more effectively than ever before. In 2016, Google's Magenta project made headlines when it released the first AI-generated piano melody, showcasing the potential of deep learning algorithms in music composition. Since then, various other AI music projects have emerged, such as OpenAI's MuseNet and Jukedeck, further pushing the boundaries of AI-generated music. AI has also been used to create entire albums, such as "I AM AI" by Taryn Southern, which was released in 2018. The album was created using AI algorithms, with Southern providing input on the melodies and lyrics but leaving the composition and arrangement to the AI system.

Impact on the Music Industry:

Staccato AI - Clubbing

AI-generated music has the potential to significantly impact the music industry, opening up new creative possibilities for musicians and composers. AI algorithms can be used as a tool to aid the creative process, generating ideas and inspiration that artists can build upon. Moreover, AI-generated music can also help make music production more accessible to a broader audience. By simplifying the composition and arrangement process, AI tools can enable individuals without extensive musical training to create original music. On the other hand, the rise of AI-generated music has raised concerns about the potential loss of human touch and originality in music. Some critics argue that AI-generated music may lack the emotional depth and nuance found in human-composed music. Furthermore, questions about copyright and authorship also arise when AI-generated music becomes more prevalent.


The origins of AI-generated music date back to the mid-20th century, but it is only in recent years that AI and machine learning technologies have advanced to the point where AI-generated music has become a viable and exciting field. As AI continues to develop and improve, it will undoubtedly play an increasingly significant role in the music industry, shaping the way we create, consume, and interact with music. This shift will bring about new creative possibilities, as well as challenges and ethical considerations that must be addressed. The potential benefits of AI-generated music are vast. It can democratize music creation, providing aspiring artists with tools and resources that were once only accessible to professionals. It can also help in the discovery of new genres and sounds, pushing the boundaries of what we know as music. Furthermore, AI-generated music can be used in industries such as film, gaming, and advertising, providing customized soundtracks to suit specific needs. However, the rise of AI-generated music also raises concerns. The ethical implications of AI in music are complex, encompassing issues such as authorship, copyright, and the potential loss of human touch in the creative process. As AI-generated music becomes more prevalent, it will be essential to strike a balance between leveraging the benefits of AI and maintaining the integrity of human creativity and artistic expression. In conclusion, AI-generated music represents a significant milestone in the evolution of music and technology. As AI continues to progress, we must remain vigilant and attentive to the potential risks and ethical considerations it poses. By doing so, we can ensure that the development and use of AI-generated music will benefit not only the music industry but society as a whole, fostering a new era of creative innovation and musical discovery.

Jeff Lupker Headshot

Dr. Jeffrey Lupker - Co-founder, Staccato

International Speaker & Published Author on Deep Learning & Music.

Dr. Lupker has published peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters and has given lectures internationally in the fields of deep learning, machine learning and music. Beyond Staccato and his own research, Dr. Lupker is an active performer on guitar and keyboards and has played across Canada and USA with award winning artists.

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