The Continuator, the machine in synch with musical styles

The Continuator

The Continuator is the research project of Francois Pachet (Sony Computer Science Laboratory in Paris). It’s a experiment focused on real time interaction with a system that can distinguish and memorize different music styles. These characteristics enable a ‘dialogue’between the musician and The Continuator. Actually the system can produce musical phrases perfectly tuned to the musician’s music style of choice. So they are a sort of ‘continuation’ of the stored sound incipit. Another important characteristic is the capability of accumulating meaningful data after each session. Then the dialogue becomes more and more interesting as the system learn the musician’s style. These learning skills makes the difference between the Communicator and other interactive music systems developed in the last years. From an architectural point of view we can identify two modules: the first (dedicated to the analysis) receives the an input from the MIDI interface; the second (dedicated to the sounds’ generation) can function in two different conditions: continuous (producing unceasingly sounds after the input) and ‘question and answer’ (every input generates only one output). The experiments done with The Continuator have granted mostly avant-garde musicians (Bernard Lubat, Claude Barthélémy, György Kurtag, etc.) and kids; for the latter the system was extraordinary in developing the children’s listening abilities, that is very rare in pre-school.

Vito Campanelli