Last week, Sony released two songs that were generated by artificial intelligence, and a full-length album is due in 2017. But Alan Turing was playing around with computer-generated music back in 1951.
And now that piece of music has been restored.
New Zealand researchers have restored a 1951 composition recorded by renowned computer scientist Turing. The recording, captured at the Computing Machine Laboratory in Manchester, features three different tracks, including “God Save the Queen.” Researchers Jason Long and Jack Copeland write:
The computer itself was scrapped long ago, so the archived recording is our only window on that historic soundscape. What a disappointment it was, therefore, to discover that the pitches were not accurate: the recording gave at best only a rough impression of how the computer sounded. But with some electronic detective work it proved possible to restore the recording—with the result that the true sound of this ancestral computer can be heard once again, for the first time in more than half a century.
You can listen to the track on SoundCloud, where there is at least one comment asking, “Where’s the drop?”
While Turing didn’t spend much time pursuing computer-generated music, his work did pave the way for other artists who would go on to pioneer synthesized music, like Delia Derbyshire, who created the original theme song for Doctor Who.