SA duo to break ground in co-production with supercomputer

Original Swimming Party members Tom Glendinning and Jeremy de Tolly are set to become one of the first bands to collaborate with a supercomputer. (Kyle Venktess)
Original Swimming Party members Tom Glendinning and Jeremy de Tolly are set to become one of the first bands to collaborate with a supercomputer. (Kyle Venktess)
Kyle Venktess, Fin24

Johannesburg - A Cape Town duo is set to become one of the first bands in the world to produce a song in collaboration with a supercomputer.

The electronica outfit Original Swimming Party (OSP) is an audio-visual group from Cape Town who define their music style as a mash-up of Western electronic, with African influences from genres like kwaito and house.

Recently, OSP began working with supercomputer Watson Beat, which is based in Austin, Texas. The band sends through chords of an original song with a "mood", and the supercomputer then uses the same notes to create an entirely new piece according to the mood.

OSP member Tom Glendinning, who produces his work from music software Ableton Live, said the group had collaborated with international artists before, and working with the supercomputer felt no different.

“It has been a very interesting process and scarily similar to working with live artists,” Glendinning told Fin24.

“Watson is meant to be artificially intelligent and emulate human intelligence. It has been like working with any other artist,” he added.

How it works

OSP sends Watson a midi file, which they explain to be music notation that a computer can understand.

Through algorithms the supercomputer listens and learns how the music written.

When a mood has been selected, Watson will send back a midi file with its own composition according to the music notes sent in the midi file by OSP.

OSP plan to work with the supercomputer to produce a world-first collaboration between artists and a supercomputer.

“The beauty of Watson is that the more complex notes we send to Watson, the more it learns. Right now it's like a high school student, with no style of its own,” Glendinning said.

“Part of our project is to send more complex notes back and forth to Watson, to produce our own song,” he added.

Read Fin24's top stories trending on Twitter:
We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Company Snapshot
Voting Booth
What potential restrictions on unvaccinated South Africans may make the biggest difference to public health, the economy?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Limited access to restaurants and bars
11% - 127 votes
Limited access to shopping centres
14% - 165 votes
Limited access to live events, including sport matches and festivals
26% - 301 votes
Workplace vaccine mandates
48% - 553 votes