The famous guitarist Keith Richards once stated that music is a language that communicates through emotions.
He might be right, but now scientists at Google and Osaka University in Japan have discovered a way to bring those emotions to life. They’ve figured out how to create music from human brain activity.
The Brain and Music: An Intriguing Experiment
In a recent experiment, the researchers played a mix of music from ten different styles – like rock, classical, and pop – to five people.
As the participants listened to the music, the researchers kept an eye on their brain activity. They used a special kind of brain scan called a functional MRI, or fMRI, which shows changes in brain activity over time.
Making Sense of the Brain’s Symphony
The information from these scans was used to train a kind of artificial intelligence known as a deep neural network.
This network learned to recognize brain activities linked to different musical elements, such as the style of the music, the mood it created, and the instruments used.
Then the researchers introduced MusicLM, a tool developed by Google that generates music based on written descriptions.
Like the brain scans, MusicLM considers factors like the instruments used, the rhythm, and the emotions created by the music.
By linking the MusicLM tool with the brain scan data, the team was able to recreate the music that the participants had heard. Instead of using written descriptions, they used brain activity as a guide to producing music.
The Results: A New Kind of Music Maker
The researchers called their new artificial intelligence tool Brain2Music.
“Our tests show that the music recreated by Brain2Music closely matches the original music,” said Timo Denk from Google, one of the researchers involved in the project.
They were even able to identify the parts of the brain that responded to descriptions of music.
They provided several examples to show how similar the recreated music was to the original pieces. One of these was a hit song from the year 2000, Britney Spears’ “Oops!… I Did It Again”.
The Brain2Music version of the song closely matched the original in terms of the sound of the instruments and the rhythm, although it didn’t include the lyrics.
The Future of Brain2Music
Despite this progress, the team admits there’s still a lot to learn about how these tools work. While Brain2Music can’t yet create a perfect song from our thoughts, the researchers believe this will be possible one day.
Future developments will focus on making the recreated music more closely match the original pieces and on creating music from pure imagination.
Who knows, future musicians might just need to imagine a song for it to be created. Imagine a device that could print out sheet music based on the tunes in their head.
Even Beethoven, who famously struggled with hearing loss, might have benefitted from a tool like Brain2Music.
Take Paul McCartney for example. He said that he came up with the idea for the song “Yesterday” in a dream. However, it took him a year and a half to write the whole song.
With something like Brain2Music, future songwriters might be able to create a complete song as soon as they wake up from a dream.
The study was published in arXiv.
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