purcell room sessions

a week long AI-human musical collaboration in London's Southbank Centre

For a week in February 2020, the inimitable Hector Plimmer and I were invited to take over the prestigious Southbank Centre’s beautiful Purcell Room. Our task: to assemble a collaborative AI-human performance that blurred the edges of who contributed what.

Hector and I working in the Purcell Room.

Building on the work of Magenta, we hastily hacked together a suite of real-time interactive tools which allowed us to capture our musical ideas as they occurred and project them into the latent spaces of generative symbolic music models. Throughout the week, we trained agents to respond to and interact with our musical ideas. Be under no illusions – this was musical interaction at its crudest, but it was interaction nonetheless. Gradually, as our shared repertoire of musical language developed, we found ourselves entering feedback loops with these agents, sometimes spiralling off into unpredictable chaos and sometimes settling into comfortable equilibria.

The week culminated with a live workshop and a sold-out performance in the space. We subsequently gave an interview to Spitfire Audio’s Composer magazine.