LCD Soundsystem's frontman is transforming tennis data into tunes

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Chris Velazco
August 29th, 2014
In this article: data, ibm, lcdsoundsystem, music, tennis, usopen, video
LCD Soundsystem's frontman is transforming tennis data into tunes

LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy has dabbled in some weird stuff since the group split up three years ago, so the news that he's now working with IBM to convert the back-and-forth cadence of tennis matches at the US Open into music... isn't really a surprise. What is surprising is what he and dev-collaborator Patrick Gunderson will ultimately wind up with: nearly 400 hours worth of algorithmically crafted "music" made from boiling serves, aces and faults into instrument tracks.

Why the quotes? Well, take a listen to what's been made so far -- it's atmospheric and occasionally pretty punchy, but calling it music can be a real stretch sometimes. Murphy doesn't necessarily disagree either. As he puts it, he's not actually writing any music, he's "generating probabilities for music." While he's quick to concede that the algorithm is "the primary music generator," that doesn't mean he won't eventually get his hands dirty -- he'll go on and remix some of the algorithm's output once the Open comes to a close. Might we suggest Haase and Murray's first match at Louis Armstrong stadium? There's just some delightfully, ominously glitchy about the whole thing.

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