Exploring connections between AI and music: Sónar and the UPC introduce the #ThinkingLab

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Picture: Paula Lienard

On Thursday 13 May, a panel of groundbreaking artists and leading experts in artificial intelligence have explored the connections between AI and music in a live-streamed event and that has marked the first activity of the #ThinkingLab created by Sónar and the UPC, ahead of the S+T+ARTS AI and Music Festival that is taking place in Barcelona this autumn.

May 11, 2021

With a human-centred conception of AI and music, this collaborative workshop has focused on working with AI from creative and scientific perspectives and promoting an open dialogue with the public about these technologies and the challenges and opportunities they present.

The objective has been to analyse how we use music to explore AI capabilities and how we use AI techniques to expand or mimic our creative capacities. Moreover, the workshop has sought to connect the artistic and artificial intelligence scenes to begin to weave networks that can create synergies. 

The full event has been streamed live for free on Thursday 13 May from 17:00 to 19:00 CET and has set the stage for a season of talks, debates and knowledge exchanges from the ThinkingLab that will also be included in the programme for the festival on 27 and 28 October 2021. 

Joining the discussion have been three artists who have made AI an integral part of their recent work:  

  • YACHT’s Claire L. Evans, whose 2019 LP Chain Tripping used machine learning as part of the composition process. 

  • Jan St. Werner, one half of the German duo Mouse on Mars, whose recent AAI (Anarchic Artificial Intelligence) project moves machine intelligence onto a central, practical and philosophical plane.

  • Iván Paz, a central figure in the live coding scene, whose work foregrounds the use of real-time ML and from-scratch composition. 

These artists have been joined by three leading specialists in the field selected by the UPC, whose combined expertise covers neural network training and speech synthesis, climate conscious applications of AI and algorithmic composition: 

  • Michaela Milano is a professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Bologna. Her research focuses on decision support and optimisation systems.

  • Jordi Pons is a researcher at Dolby Laboratories. He received a PhD in music technology, large-scale audio collections and deep learning at the Music Technology Group (Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona).

The AI and Music Festival is an initiative of the S+T+ARTS programme of the European Commission and is organised by Sónar, the UPC and betevé. On the part of the University, the project is led by IDEAI and the Center for Image and Multimedia Technology (CITM).