Paul Hembree is a composer, creative technologist, and educator, working in music artificial intelligence, new music, and interactive media.
As a composer, his works focus on uncanny, anthropomorphic utterances of non-human objects, arrayed into dense, choric clouds. These clouds often condense into patterns of visceral rhythmic articulation, on the chaotic brink between randomness and periodicity. Both extremes are explored through careful traversal of visual and auditory spaces, guided by feedback loops, the emergent (mis)behavior of hand-crafted algorithms, and the agency of human performers.
Hembree works as part of the game design duo Platypus Games as programmer, composer and sound designer. Their action-adventure spelunker Rite of Tephra (2019), which uses procedurally generated harmony that moves in sync with the player as they traverse their environment, was featured at Game Sound Con in 2019. Their next project, Woolgatherer (2022), a chill, atmospheric shepherding game, features microtonal orchestral music in a variety of non-standard equal temperaments.
Previous projects include the score and sound design for Goodnight Traffic City (2017), a game by developer Loren Schmidt and artist Kia Labeija, and The Mycosis Series (2016-2018), for real and virtual instrumentalists, with premieres by cellist T.J. Borden and trumpeter Sam Wells. His audiovisual improvisation environment, Apocryphal Chrysopoeia (2016), was featured at National Sawdust on the 2016 New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival. His orchestral works Ikarus-Azur (2013) and Lumière: Glacée et Réfractée (2012) were premiered by the La Jolla Symphony & Chorus and Ensemble Intercontemporain, respectively.
As a computer musician, he has collaborated with many prominent performers of new music, including the JACK Quartet, Irvine Arditti, the International Contemporary Ensemble, Ensemble Signal, and the Callithumpian Consort, on compositions by Pauline Oliveros, Brian Ferneyhough, and Kaija Saariaho, and Roger Reynolds, among others. As a computer musician, Hembree has collaborated with Reynolds on several major projects since 2011, including FLiGHT (2016) at the Park Avenue Armory, and Shifting/Drifting (2016), at the Darmstadt Summer Course for New Music.
In 2015 he received his PhD in music, specializing in composition and computer music, from the University of California, San Diego, where he taught music theory, history, composition, and game audio courses as an instructor. During 2017 and 2018 he was a visiting assistant professor at Bard College and a lecturer at Skidmore College, where he taught courses on interactive media with MAX/MSP, game design and audio implementation in Unity, as well as game studies courses.
In 2018, seeking to responsibly shape the future of music creation in an age of automation, Hembree joined Amper Music, where he was lead asset developer, a role that combined composition with software development. Amper designed a human-in-the-loop artificial intelligence: a process that allowed the creative decision-making of small teams of composer-developers and sampling engineers to generate production-quality audio at scale. In late 2020, Amper was acquired by Shutterstock, where Hembree worked as a software engineer on their music AI team, focusing on music taxonomy and information retrieval, helping audiences discover the work of music contributors in new ways.
Most recently, in June 2022, Hembree joined BandLab as Lead Software Engineer in Music AI, focusing on procedural generation, a role that allows him to build scalable music generation systems that rely on ethically-sourced, expert-curated compositional data and training examples.