Musician Jean-Michel Jarre is launching an “infinite music app” called EōN, which uses an algorithm to turn beats, melodies and chords he recorded into an endless stream of music.
The app is being released for Apple’s iOS devices as a paid download: it costs $8.99 and is available now on the App Store, having been unveiled today during Jarre’s appearance at the Web Summit conference in Lisbon. An Android version will follow in the near future.
It’s not just an audio experience though: Jarre has worked with a researcher (Alexis André) from the Sony Computer Science Laboratories (CSL) to create generative visuals to accompany the music. The app itself was the result of a collaboration with French music-apps developer Bleass.
“Delivering an unrivalled experience through endless hours of original music, EōN produces an individual piece of art for every user. Users will be able to listen to music generated by EōN both online and offline as the algorithm and audio engine are built directly into the app,” explains the announcement of the app, which is named after the Greek god of time and eternity.
“I named this project EōN as it best defines exactly what it is: an infinite musical and visual creation. Personally, I truly feel that EōN is one of my most exciting creative projects since my debut Oxygene,” said Jarre in a statement. “EōN is a never-ending, never repetitive, organic art-piece that will live and grow forever in everyone’s own singular space-time continuum, at the tip of their finger.”
Jarre is not the only prominent artist to be exploring the potential for generative music delivered through apps. Brian Eno has worked on a number of these projects with his development partner Peter Chilvers, including iPad app Scape, iPhone app Bloom: 10 Worlds, and a “deluxe, generative edition” of Eno’s 2017 album ‘Reflection’.
“My original intention with ambient music was to make endless music, music that would be there as long as you wanted it to be,” said Eno at the time of the latter app’s release. ‘Reflection’ was the most similar of the three to EōN in its nature. Scape and Bloom were more interactive, giving listeners more agency to control the generative-music algorithms.
In November 2018, Jean-Michel Jarre talked to Music Ally about his wider interest in artificial intelligence as a tool for music creation.
“In 10 years or 15 years from now, AI algorithms and robots will be able to conceive original music, original movies and original stories,” he said. “Of course it is going to change our relationship with the creative process as human beings. At the same time we know we are only using 10% of our brain so AI may help us to use the other 90%. That will open the door to extraordinary new territories in terms of the creative process.”
The release of EōN comes at a time when several music/tech startups are exploring generative music to create soundtracks for people to study, relax or sleep to. Endel and Mubert are two of the most prominent examples, both available as apps (and in Endel’s case, as a smart-speaker skill too).