A new project called from a programmer/musician and an officer of the National Research Council of Canada have come up with TransProse, a program that examines works of literature and transposes them into music.
The project determines the mood of the music from a lexicon of 14,000 words based on 8 emotions (anger, fear, anticipation, trust, surprise, sadness, joy and disgust) and two sentiments (positive and negative).
TransProse reads the text and breaks it down into 4 chronological sections (beginning, early middle, late middle, end), and then determines the overall mood. The tone and density of the emotional words are used to determine the key and the melody. Positive sections are in a major key and negative ones in a minor. Happy sections are in a higher octave and sad in a lower one. The more emotional words are encountered, the more notes.
This is just the beginning of the project and the authors of the program (and the subsequent paper) don't claim to have it polished yet, but it seems off to a great start. You can find out more on the TransProse website.
Here are two examples of the program at work. The first uses Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, and the second is from Antoine de Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince. Visit the website to hear many more examples.
Film composers might have to worry if the TransProse ever learns how to read a script and orchestrate. Low budget films will never be the same.
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