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Hardcover | $58.00 Short | £48.95 | 456 pp. | 7 x 9 in | 189 illus. | December 2005 | ISBN: 9780262033381
Paperback | $46.00 Short | £38.95 | 456 pp. | 7 x 9 in | 189 illus. | January 2017 | ISBN: 9780262534109

Computer Models of Musical Creativity


In this original and provocative study of computational creativity in music, David Cope asks whether computer programs can effectively model creativity—and whether computer programs themselves can create. Defining musical creativity, and distinguishing it from creativity in other arts, Cope presents a series of experimental models that illustrate salient features of musical creativity. He makes the case that musical creativity results from a process that he calls inductive association, and he contends that such a computational process can in fact produce music creatively. Drawing on the work of many other scholars and musicians—including Douglas Hofstadter, Margaret Boden, Selmer Bringsjord, and Kathleen Lennon—Cope departs from the views expressed by most with his contentions that computer programs can create and that those who do not believe this have probably defined creativity so narrowly that even humans could not be said to create.

After examining the foundations of creativity and musical creativity, Cope describes a number of possible models for computationally imitating human creativity in music. He discusses such issues as recombinance and pattern matching, allusions, learning, inference, analogy, musical hierarchy, and influence, and finds that these experimental models solve only selected aspects of creativity. He then describes a model that integrates these different aspects—an inductive-association computational process that can create music. Cope's writing style is lively and nontechnical; the reader needs neither knowledge of computer programming nor specialized computer hardware or software to follow the text.

The computer programs discussed in the text, along with MP3 versions of all the musical examples, are available at the author's website,

About the Author

David Cope is a composer and Professor of Music at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is the author of Virtual Music: Computer Synthesis of Musical Style (MIT Press, 2004).


“David Cope's new book is a must for anyone interested in musical creativity or the formal analysis of music. Not least, it's a must for anyone who already knows Cope's work: you're in for some surprises!”
Margaret A. Boden, Research Professor of Cognitive Science, University of Sussex
“What is musical creativity? David Cope has devoted more thought to the elusive connections between musical cognition, creative processes, and completed compositions than perhaps anyone on the planet. Abandoning the 'eureka' mentality of philosophers, he articulates pathways to the composition of coherent works which are grown from seeds of musical procedure. That he expresses these pathways as computer algorithms and their results as virtual music should not obscure the fact that ultimately Cope is working on the frontiers of the human understanding of human processes.”
Eleanor Selfridge-Field, Professor of Music and Symbolic Systems, Stanford University