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Get Your Own Theme at Method Music

If you’re a “Family Guy” fan like me, you might remember the episode where Peter finds a genie in a lamp and wishes for his own theme music. Well, a new website backed by the legendary frontman of the rock group “The Who”, Pete Townshend, aims to instantly compose original music for users based on their input — or more or less, make you your own theme music.

Method Music is a piece of online software developed by mathematician/composer Lawrence Ball and software developer Dave Snowdon, under the direction of Townshend. Users sit for what they call “musical portraits” in which the software “paints” a music picture based on user input. It may not be as polished as the music Ron Jones and Walter Murphy compose for “Family Guy,” but the results the software spits out are suprisingly, well, musical (one of my portraits is at the end of this post).

Users interact with Method Music via a very simple java applet. The program requires 4 pieces of information from you: a sample of your voice, a picture (not necessarily of you), a recording of a sound, and a recording of a rhythm. Have your microphone or headset handy so you can record the speaking bits (or have something ready to upload). None of the things it asks for actually show up in the music — the software says it uses the samples to ascertain your mood and learn more about you. Once you’ve uploaded the required material the software takes 1-2 minutes to create an original 5 minute composition that Method Music says is unique to you. You can listen to them online via a flash player or download them as variable bitrate MP3s.

The service is free until July 31, and allows you to sit for up to 3 portraits. Townshend and a team of composers and musicians will listen in on musical portraits regularly and may pick some for additional development. If that happens, says the website, the chosen user may be invited to help collaborate with Townshend and his team to turn the portrait into a full fledged song. If the song is released commercially, the company intends to share one-third of the earnings with the user who sat for the initial portrait that inspired it.

Townshend has actually already used the Method software experimentally in his own music. The track “Fragments” on the most recent Who album “Endless Wire,” was initially formed using Method. And an album of music Townshend, Ball, and Snowdon made with the software, “Method Music – Imaginary Sitters, Imaginary Galaxies,” is available on iTunes.

The most successful of my three portraits, which I lovingly refer to as “Composition #2,” is below. It’s sort of Mountains in the Sky meets Pink Floyd meets Paul Oakenfold. What do you think?

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