Abbey Road Red Visits the AI: More Than Human Exhibition

18th June 2019
From the coining of the term ‘Artificial Intelligence’ (AI) to the golden age, one thing is for sure; AI is without a doubt shaping the world we are living in. From neural networks detecting and blocking explicit images, to voice assistants and autonomous cars - AI is one of the defining trends of our time and becoming prevalent in our everyday lives.

This month, Red headed down to the Barbican for the AI:More than Human exhibition, which brings together cutting-edge creative and scientific developments in AI. From historical developments in the golden age of AI, to cutting edge research and creative projects, the exhibition provided a wealth of information through engaging and interactive experiences from DeepMind, MIT, Massive Attack and many more. We would recommend heading down to exhibition yourself, it runs until the end of August. The exhibition highlights key developments in AI through interactive digital experiences - here are a couple of our music-related highlights:

Triadex Muse

Sequencer-based Synthesiser

Created by Edward Fredkin & Marvin Minsky (1971 – 1972), this little beauty improvises electronic melodies based on adjustable parameters such as volume, tempo, pitch, and intervals. It was created to help compose music and can create trillions of musical variations.

Want to try it out for yourself? Click here to try the web-based recreation.

Massive Attack x MIMIC

The iconic Mezzanine album, realised through neural networks

Here at Abbey Road Red, music is coursing through our veins and another installation that caught our eye was the collaboration between Massive Attack’s Rob Del Naja and Professor Mick Grierson, who heads up the Creative Computing Institution (CCI) at the University of the Arts London. To mark the 20th anniversary of the iconic Mezzanine album, the audio was fed into a neural network which has been trained to produce new sounds based on the original album. Visitors interacting with the installation can affect the volume and intensity of the resulting composition.

Digging a little deeper into the technology behind the art, the installation system was created using the MIMIC platform, which was born out of a three-year Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded project between Goldsmiths College, Durham University, University of Sussex and Google Magenta. MIMIC stands for “Musically Intelligent Machines Interacting Creatively” and as Prof. Grierson explained “the web-based platform aims to democratise the newest machine learning techniques for artists to explore as part of their day-today creative practices.” The platform has been six years in the making and could be a potential game-changer for creatives looking to explore AI.
Collaboration between human and machine for creative purposes has always been a hot topic, raising questions such as; what is the real value of computer-generated art? Or, will the rise of AI replace humans across the creative sector? These are valid questions to which we are still very much investigating the answers!

Red believes in humans and machines playing to their respective strengths in a future where they both work symbiotically to create art. A new generation of AI technologies, improved computational power and innovators have spawned a new generation of innovators harnessing AI to empower musicians. Companies such as Sunhouse and Vochlea are creating music technology with instrumentalists in mind - in these scenarios, augmenting what is possible with an acoustic drum kit using Sunhouse's Sensory Percussion drum trigger and empowering your voice for MIDI and digital control using Vochlea's AI-powered Dubler Studio Kit. Both Sunhouse and Vochlea are using machine learning techniques, with 'real-time' functionality being key - artists would struggle to play the instruments in time with too much latency.

Red is fascinated by and will continue to explore the collaboration between man and machine in music, especially during the current golden age of AI - keep an eye on the Red website and socials for more blogs. In the meantime, we would love to hear from you...

If you are an instrumentalist – how would you augment your instrument to give you more creative possibilities?
If you are a producer – what plugin/software instrument would improve your creativity or efficiency?

Let us know at
Sunhouse Sensory Percussion
Vochlea Dubler Studio Kit