200 years after Beethoven began a symphony he would never finish, artificial intelligence helped researchers finish Beethoven’s Unfinished Symphony. The researchers adapted the transformer models used for natural language processing to complement the sequential nature of music, thereby creating neural networks. Two models used in linguistic translation proved to be the best for adding harmony and orchestration, another transformer was used to develop themes, and a BERT model helped bridge the themes, as the music can be represented as mathematical symbols.
Beethoven’s Unfinished Symphony completed by AI
Professor Rutgers Ahmed Elgammal recounts his work at the intersection of deep learning, visual arts and music.
“The challenge was enormous. The composer had sketched only a few brief themes for the work before his death in 1827. For more than two years Elgammal worked with musicologists and composers, taking AI in new directions. Ultimately, machine learning would add harmony to Beethoven’s themes, develop them as the composer did, link one theme to the next, and then help orchestrate the work, assigning parts to different instruments. . “I had never heard of any of this done before. Some AI helped create a few minutes of a string quartet but not a full symphony, ”he said.
“The work was published and premiered on October 9 by the Bonn Beethoven Orchestra in the composer’s hometown. (You can hear a recording below.) “After listening to this music for two years on my laptop it was amazing to be in the event and hear it play live,” he said. he declares. The responses covered the whole spectrum. Skeptics didn’t like the mix of art and technology, others felt inspired. “Some were very excited with tears in their eyes and goose bumps, and a friend listened to it all day, over and over again,” he recalls.
Whatever the answer, it was a historic moment in what Elgammal calls computational creativity. “We imagine that in the future we could offer various tools. We worked in classical music, but it could also be relevant for music today, ”he said. At the start of their work, the team rendered one of Beethoven’s themes in a pop style, just for fun.
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