November 8, 2011 at 9:36 am

Songwriters: Noteflight Finishes Melodies For You

To compose this short melody with Noteflight's new Autocomplete feature, I plugged in the black notes myself, and Autocomplete filled in the green ones based on what I had written.

Music composition students and songwriters, rejoice. Noteflight‘s Autocomplete feature, developed at this weekend’s Music Hack Day, will practically do your homework for you.

This Autocomplete lets frustrated composers write half a melody, press a button, and have it finished automatically. It grabs data from Peachnote and the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP) to pull off this impressive feat, matching your fragment of a melody against its library of some 60,000 scores. When it finds musical phrases similar to yours, it checks how those phrases progress to continue your melody. If you don’t like the result, you can toss it. Autocomplete will effortlessly come up with a new set of notes.

Perhaps most remarkably, this thing allows you to select a century, from 1600 to the present, to influence how it finishes your melodies, which helps fledgling composers write in a particular style.  For example, 20th century music favor more disjunct, dissonant melodies; Autocomplete can take that into account.

In our testing, it worked extremely well — no bugs, and the music it made flowed seamlessly from the notes we entered. Wacky, disjointed melodies were finished with something appropriately weird, while prettier, consonant tunes were wrapped up smoothly and coherently.

Granted, it’s tough to imagine serious composers firing up this software. But its usefulness as an educational tool, in addition to as a novelty, is clear. Teachers could use it to demonstrate the evolution of melodic sensibilities. Students could vanquish writer’s block, opening new compositional doors. Plus, it’s just a lot of fun.

Autocomplete was created by the developers of Noteflight, the online score-sharing service, and should become an official feature in its music creation platform. For now, curious parties can try the demo version.