Register for an account


Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.


Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.


70. Digital Composer Records With London Symphony Orchestra

Computer's work claimed to match the quality of renowned contemporary composers.

By Kevin BergerJanuary 25, 2013 4:00 PM
maigi / Shutterstock


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

When computer scientists start messing with music, their electronic sounds rarely elicit much interest beyond the research lab or the experimental basement club. So it was a milestone last April when the London Symphony Orchestra recorded “Tránsitos,” a 13-minute work by Iamus, a computer developed by Francisco J. Vico at the University of Málaga in Spain.

Gustavo Díaz-Jerez, a composer and pianist, and Vico designed Iamus (named after a mythical Greek prophet who understood the language of birds) to employ basic rules of musical notation and the ranges of notes available to various instruments. Beginning with some randomly generated musical fragments the researchers called genomes, Iamus mutated the elements until they evolved into complete scores. Algorithms automatically pared away any unplayable passages.

Díaz-Jerez claims that Iamus’s debut album, released last September, matches the quality of renowned human contemporary composers like Ligeti and Stockhausen—and the London Symphony Orchestra apparently agrees. You can listen at and decide for yourself if computer composers have come of age.

3 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.


Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 50%


Already a subscriber? Register or Log In