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Friday, 16 November, 2001, 08:43 GMT
Scientists invent electronic DJ
A human DJ at Creamfields festival
Disc jockeys may soon have electronic rivals
Scientists in Bristol say they have designed the world's first disc jockey with artificial intelligence.

It would be able to create and mix its own dance music and react to the mood of clubbers.

The system has been developed at the Hewlett Packard (HP) laboratories.

The inventors say the electronic "hpDJ" would be able to select different beats and base lines from its own memory bank, mix them and even sample other tracks.

I realized a lot of the techniques used in artificial intelligence could automate what DJs do

Dave Cliff, HP scientist
At the same time it would respond directly to clubbers using a unique biofeedback system.

Dancers wearing remote sensors would send signals to the computer DJ, letting it know when they were bored with the music and wanted it changed.

Dave Cliff, a scientist at HP in Bristol and part-time disc jockey, invented the hpDJ.

He said: "I muck around as a DJ in my spare time and realized that a lot of the techniques used in artificial intelligence could be used to automate what DJs do.

Digital format

"I wondered if we could invent software so people could use a home PC to create DJ-mixed compilations with no gaps between the tracks."

Once the tracks have been chosen and loaded into a computer in digital format, the hpDJ program analyzes each track.

Dave Cliff
Dave Cliff came up with the idea for the hpDJ
A club DJ typically builds tempo gradually, placing slower numbers at the end.

In the same way, the computer programme measures tempo in beats per minute to decide on an order for the tunes.

The system also imitates a real DJ by altering the tempo, slowing down or increasing the speed of the music to make a seamless mix.

The computer actually stretches out the beats to make them match from track to track.

"The human brain is not very good at recognizing small changes in the number of beats per minute, and this is the sort of thing that a computer does really well," said Mr Cliff.

Click here to go to Bristol
See also:

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16 Oct 01 | Music
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16 Sep 01 | Music
Euro DJ ends Bob's chart reign
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