Students at Edge Hill University are using real police crime data to create music.

Using thousands of crime data entries charting anything from anti-social behaviour to murders, the students are writing computer programmes to generate music.

They are processing 2012-2014 data from Lancashire, Merseyside, Cheshire and Greater Manchester Police, available through the Government’s open data website and turning it into musical compositions.

Professor Mark Anderson

Professor Mark Anderson from the University’s Department of Computer Science said: “I have given the students an open ended opportunity to decide how they process the data. They might use different tones or pitched notes for each crime or location, and they can choose any style of music as their inspiration; classical, dance, reggae, and so on.

“They also have to choose how they then arrange these notes, chronologically or by crime type, location…there are so many possibilities for how they use this huge data set.”


He added: “The skill is in them writing their own programme and processing the data in a meaningful way. It’s based on nature inspired programming where they using algorithms to model what happens in nature.

“Creating music using computers has added complexities compared to creating visual art, for instance, where there are fewer variable values to generate. This data set has many elements with different values; every line and every column has potential to create a new note. I’m really looking forward to hearing what they come up with.”

Ten students will complete their musical compositions by the end of term as part of a module on software application development.

In the future, it may even be possible that such musical compositions generated through algorithms may be able to determine patterns in crime; bringing new meaning to the beat of an officer.

Listen to some of the resulting music below: