Raphael earns honors at Turing Tests in Creative Arts

Christopher Rapahel
Christopher Rapahel

Christopher Raphael, a professor of informatics at the School of Informatics and Computing, earned top honors in the AccompaniX category of the 2017 Turing Tests in Creative Arts. sponsored by the Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth College.

The event challenged entrants to create computer algorithms that could produce short stories, sonnets, or music that were indistinguishable from those composed by humans. Raphael’s system, Music Plus One, saw Raphael feed a human-produced lead performance through an algorithm to teach an artificial performer to produce the same accompaniment, which was then melded together as a duet.

The competition was named after the Turing Test developed by Alan Turing, which judges the effectiveness of artificial intelligence by a person’s ability to distinguish between human and AI responses. Raphael’s entry was the only one to be judged to have “passed” the Turing Test by an online community of judges.

“I heard about this through a colleague of mine who was doing it,” says Raphael, whose musical research focuses on accompaniment systems, computer generated musical analysis, and the modeling of musical interpretation. “It seemed like a natural for me.”

The algorithm was designed to allow the computer-generated version of the melody to provide its own interpretation of the music, as would be the case in a usual human duet, while still sticking closely to the assigned sheet music.

“It was just a matter of presenting my approach,” Raphael says. “It was pretty straightforward. You give them your system, and they do the work. The musical score is known to the computer, and you can adjust the timing and the interpretation to make it sound as natural as possible.”

Raphael was announced as the winner of the AcommpaniX category at the Musica Metacreation Workshop at the International Conference on Computational Creativity in Atlanta in mid-June.

“This is an area that I’ve worked in for a number of years and made considerable progress,” Raphael says. “It was great to be recognized for having the best system in the competition, and it was a fun experience.”

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