Interactively evolving compositional sound synthesis networks

Björn Jónsson, Amy K. Hoover, Sebastian Risi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

12 Scopus citations


While the success of electronic music often relies on the uniqueness and quality of selected timbres, many musicians struggle with complicated and expensive equipment and techniques to create their desired sounds. Instead, this paper presents a technique for producing novel timbres that are evolved by the musician through interactive evolutionary computation. Each timbre is produced by an oscillator, which is represented by a special type of artificial neural network (ANN) called a compositional pattern producing network (CPPN). While traditional ANNs compute only sigmoid functions at their hidden nodes, CPPNs can theoretically compute any function and can build on those present in traditional synthesizers (e.g. square, sawtooth, triangle, and sine waves functions) to produce completely novel timbres. Evolved with NeuroEvolution of Augmenting Topologies (NEAT), the aim of this paper is to explore the space of potential sounds that can be generated through such compositional sound synthesis networks (CSSNs). To study the effect of evolution on subjective appreciation, participants in a listener study ranked evolved timbres by personal preference, resulting in preferences skewed toward the first and last generations. In the long run, the CSSN's ability to generate a variety of different and rich timbre opens up the intriguing possibility of evolving a complete CSSN-encoded synthesizer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGECCO 2015 - Proceedings of the 2015 Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference
EditorsSara Silva
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781450334723
StatePublished - Jul 11 2015
Externally publishedYes
Event16th Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference, GECCO 2015 - Madrid, Spain
Duration: Jul 11 2015Jul 15 2015

Publication series

NameGECCO 2015 - Proceedings of the 2015 Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference


Other16th Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference, GECCO 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Software


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