LINZ, Austria (AFP) - Can artificial intelligence produce symphonies at the height of one of the greats of classical music? This ...

AI as good as Mahler? Austrian orchestra plays a symphony with rotation

LINZ, Austria (AFP) - Can artificial intelligence produce symphonies at the height of one of the greats of classical music?

This was the question posed by an unusual performance of the orchestra in the Austrian town of Linz on Friday, in which Symphony was played. 10 of Gustav Mahler, immediately followed by six minutes of "Mahleresque" music written by software.

The creator of the project says that the two stand out clearly, but everyone in the audience disagrees.

"I really could not feel the difference ... I think it was really well done," María José Sánchez Varela, a researcher in science and philosophy in Mexico, told AFP.

The performance was part of the Ars Electronica festival in Linz, which aims to highlight the links between science, art and technology.

Artificial intelligence researcher and composer Ali Nikrang, who works at the festival-affiliated Ars Electronica Futurelab research center, is behind this pioneering performance.

He used AI MuseNet open source software to write the music.

"Everything sounds like music, there are emotions, but someone who really knows that Mahler will immediately notice that it's not Mahler," Nikrang told AFP, recognizing that the typical "harmonic expressions" of Mahler were not yet present.

He said that IA had drawn "data from the past, data that Mahler left us", so that he could create an exact copy of Mahler, but still could not find a "concept" or general theme for the music. as the classical composer did.

But Nikrang says the AI ​​has, however, made great progress.

Working with the first 10 notes of Mahler's Symphony No. 10, the software gave him four suggested segments, of which he chose one, after which he continued to give him four more and so on.

In total, Nikrang evaluated a few dozen tracks before choosing what viewers heard on Friday.

"All the suggestions were pretty good ... It's not obvious with the AI, at least considering the state of the technology five months ago," Nikrang said, adding that MuseNet had allowed a jump in terms of quality.

Christine Schoepf, co-director of Ars Electronica, said that when she took part in the first edition 40 years ago, "we could not have guessed what would happen to AI".

"The fact that I'm progressing so fast was not predictable," he said.

Lack of "emotional depth"

Experts say the project highlights interesting issues.

"Of course, it's really exciting," said Aljoscha Burchardt of the German Center for Research on Artificial Intelligence (DFKI).

"One wonders if the machines are so smart that they can produce good music, or if the music has not been a great success after all," asks Burchardt.

"Maybe the plays followed an understandable logic that only very good composers knew in the past, and that a machine can do it now, that's the question," he told AFP. .

With computers producing works at an unparalleled speed for composers, prices could fall, but on the other hand, as in other areas where the "hand-made" has more prestige, the artists who write their Music without software could charge a premium, said Burchardt.

Machines also need the man to guide them, said Austrian music expert Christian Scheib.

"Even with an extremely complex artificial intelligence, it depends on the artistic quality and skills of the respective composer," he told AFP.

And, of course, Amnesty International can not explain its plans to journalists either.

As Nikrang had predicted, some viewers noted that Amnesty International had resumed Friday night.

One of them, Manuela Klaut, said: "I suddenly thought," Ah, it's getting a little more arbitrary "or something like that."

But she admitted that it was difficult to determine what exactly changed and that the overall performance was still "excellent".

"I felt a little that the emotional depth you have in a composition of Mahler was absent, perhaps melancholy," said the 39-year-old German.

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