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Press: information, background and contacts

Contact and Bio

The site owner and engineer is Bob MacCallum. By day, Bob is a genome bioinformaticist at Imperial College London. He creates databases and tools for mosquito and malaria researchers. Daytime contact details can be found here. You can also send an email using this form or to this address: press at this site's domain name.

Facts and quotes

Evolectronica is...

  • Evolving beats and bleeps
  • Zero-effort music making
  • Community-evolved internet radio
  • An ad-free zone (although we have some cool T-shirts you can buy to help pay the bills)
  • Streaming unique new music 24 hours a day
  • (R)evolutionary music making
  • Suitable for all the family
  • Licensed under a Creative Commons Non-commercial Licence
  • The future of music!

Users will also find free loop downloads in WAV and MP3 format. These make original and unique ringtones!

Technical details

We generate the music using an evolutionary algorithm called genetic programming. Evolutionary algorithms breed populations of individuals inside a computer. At Evolectronica, those individuals are short loops of music. Each loop has genetic material (like DNA in living things) which can be decoded to make music. This "musical DNA" can also be combined with another individual's genetic material to make offspring. Sometimes errors, called mutations, occur during reproduction.

Evolutionary algorithms need to know how "fit" each individual is (remember, it's survival of the fittest). Evolectronica uses the human ear and brain to provide the fitness measure. That's why we stream the music out to flesh and blood listeners, and provide a simple form to gather feedback. We have to use real people because computer algorithms are not very good at evaluating the quality of music, yet...

Evolution isn't fast of course. We estimate that user will notice improvements only after 10-20 minutes (assuming somebody is sending back ratings most of the time).

If the site gets very popular, we can parallelise the ratings process and get some speedup.

Background

Bob started developing software to evolve music in 2003. After testing out a few different web-based user interfaces between 2006 and 2008, Evolectronica was finally born on Darwin Day in 2009. The key difference from the previous versions is the constant stream of music which does not require constant attention from the listener. Much better for listening at work...

To our knowledge, no other "broadcast quality" evolutionary music web sites exist, although we know of one piece of commercial software to evolve drum loops off-line (MuSing). Quite a few people have had the idea to evolve music or synthesizer sounds, but nobody has brought it all together in one polished, finished product. Not until Evolectronica, that is.
More information about evolutionary music can be found on Wikipedia and in this comprehensive bibliography.

Just get in touch if you have any more questions!