Finish Schubert's 'Unfinished Symphony' with an algorithm: sacrilege? | Culture

Franz Schubert It is a perpetual enigma. He died young, at the age of 31, but more than to wear himself out in an intense life, like so many other musicians, he was consumed in a certain solitary melancholy of coffees as an outlet for his total dedication to creation. "The state should take care of me," he wrote to a friend, to give an account of his devotion to work. And if these times ran, maybe the technology company did Huawei, which has designed by algorithm and artificial intelligence the auction of its Symphony number eight, known as the Unfinished.

He was the penultimate in his catalog of orchestral works. In romantic Vienna in the early nineteenth century, Schubert came to create nine. Therefore, more than not being able to complete it, probably, the two missing movements were lost. Not because of him. He had planned to write it for the Graz Musical Society, which made him an honorary member. He handed out sketches of his score to his friend Anselm Hüttenbrenner in 1822. But he may have lost them along the way.

The original, the psychological and psychiatric, the same concept of error as a tool ... all these aspects are consubstantial to the mind of a creator, not of a machine "


It is one of the quite probable theories. The fact is that this was how it became the most mysterious and interpreted work of its author for orchestra. An accumulation of diatribes have happened on her and her symbolic influence appears again to be prey now on artificial intelligence. Huawei presented it in public this Monday at the Cadogan Hall of London, while the controversy has been stirring before a result that has given to speak before it was released.

In a note, the company says that the version has been created through the use of an artificial intelligence model that directly benefits from its own technology of neural processing applied to its mobiles. From the timbre, the tone and the beat of the first and second movements preserved, the model generated a melody for the non-existent or missing third and fourth foreseen. Subsequently, Huawei worked with the composer Lucas Cantor to fix an orchestral score of the melody in the line that Schubert presumably sought then.

The Spanish composer José María Sánchez-Verdú puts us in context: "Since the sixties this type of work is being done. Already in the US, with the first computers, they are put into practice. Substituting the mind and creativity of a composer through algorithmic processes developed by a machine is enormously old, "he says.

Nor are distraction maneuvers worth: "Everything falls within the advertising sphere, launching technological news and, in addition, from great names and works of European culture, as is now Schubert." The initiative abounds in several previous attempts. "There are several versions developed by composers in the last twenty years about this symphony. I personally do not find any encouragement and interest in these proposals, "says Sánchez-Verdú.

Who are we to complete a work of, in this case, one of the most sensitive, refined and original musicians in history? "

Gustavo Gimeno

For this creator of reference in the world, human mind and fantasy play with many more aspects that any computer program can develop. "In statistical terms, algorithms and possibilities, you can create this type of work and correctly. However, the aesthetic, social, personal, and many other aspects such as the original, the surprising, the audacious, the imperfect, the psychological and psychiatric, the same concept of error as a tool ... all these aspects are inherent to the mind of a creator, not a machine. "

TO Fabián Panisello, also a composer and head of the Plural Ensemble group, the experiment does not seem appropriate: "No longer for ethical reasons, but because a creator can make a qualitative leap at any time he considers it within a formal panorama. It is something unpredictable for any kind of artificial intelligence. The intuition of a composer dominates fundamental data and metadata in face of the resources required by his work. The rest is mere form and appearance ... ", says the musician, who has just released his work in Spain Les Rois Mages before presenting it this year in Nice, Vienna, Munich, Basel and Tel Aviv.

For Lucia Marín, orchestra director, "is a good hook to bring technology to art. An interesting experiment, "he says. "That a technological company was raised and resolved an acrobatic exercise of these characteristics seems to me a heroic and intellectual daring that tells us where we were going. But let's not forget that it is lacking in the essential: the soul. Music, in its essence, aims to make us transcend to all those infinite ideas of the intangible that as the little prince said is invisible to the eyes, "he adds.

When Marín works on a score, the questions flow: "What is the ulterior motive for which a composer is dragged by the unstoppable force of writing, what does he feel? I take a long time to answer, sometimes years. In the end, every work of art comes from the heart to reach the heart, I usually respond. Artificial means that it is not conceived by the human being, who does not belong to nature, who, therefore, lacks life, "he confesses.

Gustavo Gimeno, conductor and head of the Luxembourg Philharmonic, does not see the object of the initiative: "What for? Honestly, I do not get any interest ... It seems nonsense ... The composition is wonderful as it is, just like the Ninth Bruckner's Symphony, incomplete for other reasons. Schubert lived long enough to have finished it and he did not. Who are we to complete a work of, in this case, one of the most sensitive, refined and original musicians in history? ".


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