Lights, Camera, Music! - YAV Music Engine Automates Film Scoring


YAV Interactive Media
Brederodestraat 47
2042 BB Zandvoort
The Netherlands

Stephanie Yavelow, Marketing Director
voice: +31-23-571-6282
fax: +31-23-571-6245


The Netherlands -- June 3, 1997 -- The newMetropolis Science and Technology Center in Amsterdam provides a showcase for the YAV Music Engine(tm). The top floor of the new museum is devoted to interactivity and the humanities. There one finds an exhibit created by YAV Interactive Media titled The Music is the Message, which uses "computer-simulated creativity" to allow anyone to compose music for a short film. YAV ( has been producing interactive media for 12 years.

The Music is the Message relies on the YAV Music Engine (YME) to generate new film music in three moods: romantic, humorous, and suspenseful. The film, produced by Amber Film, is intentionally ambiguous so that its interpretation rests solely upon the soundtrack. Depending upon the mood chosen, the YME kernel uses different algorithms to transform musical themes. Exhibit visitors can configure the rhythmic world, seed melody, audio-video synchronization points, textures, volume curve, and instrumentation of the music. Alternatively, one can choose to leave any or all of the decisions up to the computer, an Apple Power Macintosh in this case.

The YAV Music Engine is a modular technology incorporating an expert system engine that creates credible music in a variety of styles (expert systems are loosely related to artificial intelligence). For the composer, YME offers a means to realize musical works according to diverse specifications. For the interactive media producer or film and video maker, YME provides unique, original, and copyright-free music in a very flexible manner. An added feature for the newMetropolis exhibit relies on the fact that many different people are creating soundtracks for the same film -- the YME software "learns" from each encounter with a human and modifies its behavior accordingly.

Christopher Yavelow, YAV's president and creative director, stresses that the YAV Music Engine creates new, hitherto unheard music rather than taking the increasingly prevalent approach of re-organizing canned music. He explains: "Many people confuse interactive audio with interactive music. It is simpler to say 'I am listening to music' than 'I am listening to the sound of music being performed.' Until recently, there has been no reason to make a distinction between music and the sound of music. People use the word 'music' to refer to music as an art form, the printed symbols representing expressions of this art form, and the audible sounds of these symbols being performed. Now, technology requires that we clarify these terms.True interactive music must actually compose new music and, therefore, such software must 'understand' the semantics of music itself, not simply the mechanics required to spit out re-ordered, re-mixed fragments of existing audio-recordings. I refer to modeling the compositional process, something that is orders of magnitude beyond automated 'cut, copy, and paste.'"

Yavelow has received dozens of awards for his music as well as the Computer Press Association's "Best Advanced How-To Book" award for his "Macworld Music and Sound Bible." Acclaimed in 1994 for launching the first opera into cyberspace, he has authored or co-authored landmark interactive media products since the mid-80s for clients such as Apple Computer, Coda Music Software, Verbum Magazine, Random House, AR Editions, the Dutch VPRO Television Network, and earlier this year, the award-winning LEGO Technic CD-ROM.

The newMetropolis Science and Technology Center opened in the Netherlands on June 3, 1997. The building, designed by Erasmus Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano -- designer of the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Potsdamer Platz in Berlin -- rises 90 meters above the water next to Amsterdam Central Station. A CD-ROM version of YAV's The Music is the Message exhibit is slated for Summer 1997.

The following URLs provide additional information:

Sample music generated by users of the software:
Sample screen shots of The Music is the Message:
Representative Interactive Media Portfolio:
YAV Client List:


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