On the use of AI for Generation of Functional Music to Improve Mental Health

Duncan Williams, Victoria J. Hodge, Chia-Yu Wu

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Increasingly music has been shown to have both physical and mental health benefits including improvements in cardiovascular health, a link to reduction of cases of dementia in elderly populations, and improvements in markers of general mental well-being such as stress reduction. Here, we describe short case studies addressing general mental well-being (anxiety, stress-reduction) through AI-driven music generation. Engaging in active listening and music-making activities (especially for at risk age groups) can be particularly beneficial, and the practice of music therapy has been shown to be helpful in a range of use cases across a wide age range. However, access to music-making can be prohibitive in terms of access to expertize, materials, and cost. Furthermore the use of existing music for functional outcomes (such as targeted improvement in physical and mental health markers suggested above) can be hindered by issues of repetition and subsequent over-familiarity with existing material. In this paper, we describe machine learning approaches which create functional music informed by biophysiological measurement across two case studies, with target emotional states at opposing ends of a Cartesian affective space (a dimensional emotion space with points ranging from descriptors from relaxation, to fear). Galvanic skin response is used as a marker of psychological arousal and as an estimate of emotional state to be used as a control signal in the training of the machine learning algorithm. This algorithm creates a non-linear time series of musical features for sound synthesis “on-the-fly”, using a perceptually informed musical feature similarity model. We find an interaction between familiarity and perceived emotional response. We also report on subsequent psychometric evaluation of the generated material, and consider how these - and similar techniques - might be useful for a range of functional music generation tasks, for example, in nonlinear sound-tracking such as that found in interactive media or video games.
Original languageEnglish
Article number497864
Number of pages6
JournalFrontiers in Artificial Intelligence
Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

© 2020 Williams, Hodge and Wu.

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