Science of music brought to the big screen

Science of music brought to the big screen

Research into computer generated music has been used to create the soundtrack for a film nominated for a British Universities Film & Video Council (BUFVC) Learning on Screen Award.

The soundtrack for the film; ‘Into the Looking Glass – how selfie culture is preparing us to meet our future selves’ was created by Dr Alan Chamberlain, University of Nottingham. Dr Chamberlain, who is based in the Mixed Reality Lab, worked with the Centre’s Professor David De Roure to develop a software that allows people to explore computer algorithms in a creative way.

The tools developed were called “Numbers into Notes” - a software-based interpretation of Ada Lovelace’s theorizing on the properties of Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine.

Dr Chamberlain said: “It’s been great to work with David. Working in an environment such as the Oxford e-Research Centre, where people are supportive of new and experimental approaches to developing and understanding new technologies, is really important. Being a Visiting Academic at the Centre can lead to innovative and interesting outcomes. For me this research has brought together the Arts, Humanities and Sciences and has promoted collaboration between the Universities of Oxford, Nottingham and Aberystwyth”.

In creating the soundtrack, Dr Chamberlain worked with the film’s writers and directors Dr Greg Bevan and Dr Glen Creeber at the Department of Theatre Film and Television, Aberystwyth University.

The film asks the viewer to re-think their evolving relationship with the media. Rather than simply illustrate the script, the selected audio-visual materials attempt to offer a more engaging experience for the viewer by responding to and entering into dialogue with the spoken text.

Dr Chamberlain continues: “Sometimes research can be difficult to explain, but by showing how unique tools such as Numbers into Notes can be used people can understand where the research has come from, its value and the innovative and impactful ways in which research can be applied in the real world, such as composing soundtracks for film”.

The Numbers Into Notes research explores the use of autonomous systems for composing music. Using the Numbers into Notes interface the composer is able to create a musical algorithm (set of notes) by experimenting with the different mathematical formulae. The musical sequences can then be used for inspiration, or used directly in compositions.

This research is part of the EPSRC’s Fusing Audio and Semantic Technologies for Intelligent Music Productions and Consumption (FAST). This project brings the very latest technologies together on the entire recorded music industry form producer to consumer, making the production process more fruitful, the consumption process more engaging and the delivery and intermediation more automated and robust.

The Award Ceremony is at the British Film Institute on Thursday 26 April 2018 at the BFI Southbank, London.


Article adapted from University of Nottingham blog