Software That Uses A Novel's Words To Create A Soundtrack

TransProse measures the number and density of words associated with basic emotions -- anger, joy, fear, and so on -- and generates music designed to reflect the moods on the page.

What's the Latest Development?

A study currently available on the online pre-publish site arXiv describes how TransProse, a software program developed by researchers Hannah Davis and Saif Mohammad, could transform the novel-reading experience. First, the software analyzes the frequency and density of words associated with eight emotions, including fear, joy and trust. It then uses that data to create "emotion profiles" and from there it builds a soundtrack using rules that follow basic elements of music. The TransProse Web site contains sample soundtracks created from novels as diverse as Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and Cormac McCarthy's The Road.

What's the Big Idea?

Davis and Mohammad say their work represents a combination of two previously separate study subjects: the creation of music and the development of sentiment through literature. They also envision a range of applications for the software, including "audiovisual e-books" and enhanced Web and social media: "Imagine a tweet stream that is accompanied by music that captures the aggregated sentiment towards an entity, or displaying the world map where clicking on a particular region plays music that captures the emotions of the tweets emanating from there."

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