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Virtual birdsong

Tecno 242aDaniel Bueno Generated by an evolutionary algorithm that controls the process of simulating the songs of a virtual population of birds, computational model EvoPio creates soundscapes composed of a never-repeating combination of bird calls.  Developed by musician and electrical engineer José Fornari, from the Interdisciplinary Center for Sound Communications (NICS) at the University of Campinas (Unicamp), the current version of the software can generate up to 20 simultaneous songs (International Journal of Arts and Technology, Vol. 9, No. 1, 2016).  The system emulates the function of a bird’s syrinx (the organ equivalent of human vocal chords) and is controlled by a group of 16 parameters, a kind of computational “chromosome” with instructions on how to generate distinct calls.  Each “chromosome” reproduces into couplets via processes equivalent to genetic recombination and mutation, generating a new virtual bird with its respective call.  “When that bird ‘dies’, its song ceases and the chromosome is erased from the population,” explains Fornari.  “The system uses no recorded sounds or any other form of recording.”  The newest version allows researchers to introduce new birds and songs into the system by simply posting a message on Twitter.