A pair of musicians recorded every possible MIDI melody just to get around copyright law

Motherboard has an interesting new piece about musical copyright law, and the fact that there are only so many musical sequences using half-step frequencies possible. What happens when they're all used up, and the copyright trolls take everyone to court for any song that even remotely resembles another one, just by virtue of the fact that it relies on the same music theory?

Think about Lana Del Rey accidentally ripping off of Radiohead, who had accidentally ripped off of the Hollies. It's not crazy to write a song that goes from the I to the extra tension of a Chromatic Mediant III before resolving on a IV, which then walks down to a minor iv and returns to the tonic.

(Or, in simpler terms, as Motherboard puts it: Sam Smith's "Stay With Me" ripping off of Tom Petty's "Won't Back Down")

To get around the potential future copyright trolls, Damien Riehl and Noah Rubin developed a MIDI algorithm to automatically generate a series of melodies, then released those datasets into the public domain using a Creative Commons Zero license. The method for achieving this is pretty neat:

To determine the finite nature of melodies, Riehl and Rubin developed an algorithm that recorded every possible 8-note, 12-beat melody combo. This used the same basic tactic some hackers use to guess passwords: Churning through every possible combination of notes until none remained. Riehl says this algorithm works at a rate of 300,000 melodies per second.

Once a work is committed to a tangible format, it's considered copyrighted.

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Super Mario theme performed on MalletKAT, a full-size MIDI xylophone

Gal Gershovsky, Felipe Fournier and Danny Flam perform Koji Kondo's classic Super Mario Bros. theme on the MalletKAT, a MIDI xylophone.

We bought a malletKAT (which is a midi xylophone) and we took it for a test drive - we used gameboy samples from the impactsoundworks super audio boy and rearranged them in Kontakt so the top keys on the MK are drum samples and the rest of the keys gameboy sounds. So this is the result! (this is after first rehearsal and you can hear Danny screwing up his part lol)

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8-bit Bohemian Rhapsody

That Gamer created this lovely 8-bit rendition of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," along with many of Queen's other greatest hits. Read the rest

WATCH: scorching guitar riff with ACPAD MIDI controller prototype

ACPAD is a touch-activated MIDI controller that can be overlaid on an acoustic guitar face, allowing a range of effects and rhythms while playing. Read the rest