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Bastard Tunes

To compose this piece I used a machine learning system developed in collaboration with Dr. Bob Sturm (folk-rnn). The system was trained on over 20,000 transcription of “session” folk music (broadly speaking Celtic dance tunes). After the training the system can generate new tunes in plausible 'Irish' style. As a composer I was more interested in exploring the limits of the system's capabilities and try to extract material that deviates, in interesting ways, from the style the system learned.

The first stage of the composition in each of the four movements consisted of many iterations of asking the system to generate tunes and changing some parameters in order to pull the system’s outputs away from the regular patterns it learned. Each movement is based on melodic material generated by the system but I treated it with a fair amount of freedom when arranging these ‘folk tunes’. Hence the title – these are like the illegitimate off-springs of me and folk-rnn.

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