Darwin’s theory of evolution has been applied to music by two researchers from Imperial College London. Robert MacCallum and Armand Leroi suspected that musical styles evolved through natural selection, so the duo came up with DarwinTunes, an online platform that allows users to play God with some musical creatures.
Here’s how it works: the two created hundreds of 8-second loops, each encoded by a digital genome that determined which notes were used, the instruments, the tempo, etc. Users were then directed to rate the loops on a five-point scale. Higher-rated loops would pair off with one another and effectively mate, producing “offspring” with mixed DNA and musical mutations.
To date there have been 3,630 generations, and the results have been interesting. The music has gotten more complex over time, but the loops still show a preponderance of Western notes and musical ideas. Atonal and jarring loops have been effectively breeded out.