Controlling Perceived Emotion in Symbolic Music Generation with Monte Carlo Tree Search


  • Lucas N. Ferreira University of Alberta
  • Lili Mou University of Alberta
  • Jim Whitehead University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Levi H. S. Lelis University of Alberta



Music Generation, Emotion, Language Model, Monte Carlo Tree Search


This paper presents a new approach for controlling emotion in symbolic music generation with Monte Carlo Tree Search. We use Monte Carlo Tree Search as a decoding mechanism to steer the probability distribution learned by a language model towards a given emotion. At every step of the decoding process, we use Predictor Upper Confidence for Trees (PUCT) to search for sequences that maximize the average values of emotion and quality as given by an emotion classifier and a discriminator, respectively. We use a language model as PUCT's policy and a combination of the emotion classifier and the discriminator as its value function. To decode the next token in a piece of music, we sample from the distribution of node visits created during the search. We evaluate the quality of the generated samples with respect to human-composed pieces using a set of objective metrics computed directly from the generated samples. We also perform a user study to evaluate how human subjects perceive the generated samples' quality and emotion. We compare PUCT against Stochastic Bi-Objective Beam Search (SBBS) and Conditional Sampling (CS). Results suggest that PUCT outperforms SBBS and CS in almost all metrics of music quality and emotion.




How to Cite

N. Ferreira, L., Mou, L., Whitehead, J., & Lelis, L. H. S. (2022). Controlling Perceived Emotion in Symbolic Music Generation with Monte Carlo Tree Search. Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment, 18(1), 163-170.