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Yamaha unveils first piano AI system

Yamaha Corporation has released footage of the world’s first artificial intelligence (AI) piano system, in the company’s latest foray into the world of live music AI.

The piano system, which made its debut at the Ars Electronica festival in Linz, Austria, is capable of playing any piece of music in the style of late pianist Glenn Gould. Music hologram production company Eyellusion has also expressed interest in bringing Gould back to life, in the form of a hologram tour.

At the festival, the system performed solo and a duet with pianist Francesco Tristano, accompanied by a trio of Bruckner Orchestra Linz members.

The system consists of a player piano and the AI software, which applies deep-learning technology to play any piece in Gould’s style with the aid of sheet music data.

It also includes Yamaha’s original AI Music Ensemble technology, enabling the system to analyse the performances of human pianists and play alongside them.

“To bring artificial intelligence into connection with music should be the beginning of a discussion that searches to expand and improve our virtuoso actions”

“To bring artificial intelligence into connection with music should not end in a competition, but should be the beginning of a discussion that searches to improve us and to expand and improve our virtuoso actions,” comments Martin Honzik, senior director of Ars Electronica Festival, Prix and Exhibitions divisions.

Brian M Levine, executive director of the Glenn Gould Foundation, recommends the project be “taken into the music mainstream” due to the “keen interest”, “great deal of attention” and “spirited debate” it will generate.

The AI piano concert marks Yamaha’s latest foray into live music AI, following the reproduction of the voice of Japanese singer Hibari Misora through its Vocaloid:AI singing synthesis technology.

According to Yamaha’s senior general manager of research and development division, Koichi Morita, the aim of such AI projects is to expand “the boundaries of musical creativity”.

“By sharing some of our ongoing results with music enthusiasts at Ars Electronica,” says Morita, “I feel we have taken another step toward realising these new possibilities.”


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