Virtual Music

Virtual Music

Computer Synthesis of Musical Style

By David Cope





Virtual Music is about artificial creativity. Focusing on the author's Experiments in Musical Intelligence computer music composing program, the author and a distinguished group of experts discuss many of the issues surrounding the program, including artificial intelligence, music cognition, and aesthetics.

The book is divided into four parts. The first part provides a historical background to Experiments in Musical Intelligence, including examples of historical antecedents, followed by an overview of the program by Douglas Hofstadter. The second part follows the composition of an Experiments in Musical Intelligence work, from the creation of a database to the completion of a new work in the style of Mozart. It includes, in sophisticated lay terms, relatively detailed explanations of how each step in the process contributes to the final composition. The third part consists of perspectives and analyses by Jonathan Berger, Daniel Dennett, Bernard Greenberg, Douglas R. Hofstadter, Steve Larson, and Eleanor Selfridge-Field. The fourth part presents the author's responses to these commentaries, as well as his thoughts on the implications of artificial creativity.

The book (and corresponding Web site) includes an appendix providing extended musical examples referred to and discussed in the book, including composers such as Scarlatti, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Puccini, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Debussy, Bartok, and others. It is also accompanied by a CD containing performances of the music in the text.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262032834 580 pp. | 7.5 in x 9.25 in


$45.00 X ISBN: 9780262532617 580 pp. | 7.5 in x 9.25 in


  • 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

  • Virtual Music is not to be missed. It is engrossing, illuminating, and some would say outrageous. David Cope's computer program, Emmy, composes music that's difficult to distinguish from real music. But perhaps it is 'real' music? And perhaps Emmy is 'really' creative? Several critics insist that it isn't. Douglas Hofstadter, for instance, challenges Cope in an essay in the book called 'Staring Emmy Straight in the Eye—And Doing My Best Not to Flinch. Their debate is essential reading for anyone interested in musical creativity, or in the relation between creativity and computers. You don't need to be a computer-buff, or an expert musician either, to be fascinated by it. Whether you'll be seduced or merely infuriated is for you to find out.

    Margaret A. Boden

    Research Professor of Cognitive Science, University of Sussex

  • If only Beethoven or Chopin could explain their methods as clearly as David Cope. So when Cope's program writes a delightful turn of musical phrase, who is the artist: the composer being emulated, Cope's software, or David Cope himself? Cope offers keen philosophical insights into this question, one that will become increasingly compelling over time. He also provides us with brilliant and unique insights into the intricate structure of humankind's most universal artform.

    Raymond Kurzweil

    inventor and author of The Age of Intelligent Machines and The Age of Spiritual Machines