AI Podcast: The Next Hans Zimmer? How AI May Create Music for Video Games, Exercise Routines

by Allison Toh

Imagine Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as an algorithm. Or the next Hans Zimmer as a computer.

At our annual GTC Technology Conference in May, our video from the keynote, titled “I Am AI,” featured music that was composed by AI itself.

To accomplish this, we enlisted the help of Pierre Barreau and his startup, Aiva Technologies, which uses deep learning to create music.

Barreau credits growing up in a “family of artists” as his reason for wanting to bring AI into music.

“I’m a self-taught pianist and I also studied computer science at university,” Barreau said in conversation with AI Podcast host Michael Copeland. “So basically, I got this idea of using my technical background and my musical background and bringing them together to build this artificial intelligence.”

How AI Makes Music

The process for using AI in music composition is as follows: The algorithm will compose themes, which may or may not be curated, depending on the client’s briefing. The algorithm can also be trained to create different themes if the client wants something different.

This quick turnaround is made possible because of how fast the system can compose themes. An algorithm can create a theme in four minutes, Barreau said.

However even music composed by an AI system faces some of the same barriers faced by human composers, because it must be played by humans. By listening to great music, however, the AI has learned how to work within our human limitations.

“Essentially, you could create a lot of different compositions where human players wouldn’t be able to stretch their hands,” Barreau said. “Indirectly, the algorithm learns those features because the compositions that it learns from were created by humans that have these constraints.”

Beyond scoring videos, Barreau hopes Aiva can solve “use-cases that humans alone cannot solve.” Background music for video games and personalized exercise music are both potential targets for the Luxembourg startup’s technology.

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