When Ludwig van Beethoven died in 1827, the famous German composer left behind a few musical fragments of what would have been his 10th symphony.
Now, a group of musicologists and computer programmers is developing an artificial intelligence to finish the composition — and in April, a full symphony orchestra will perform it live in Beethoven’s birthplace of Bonn, Germany.
To train the AI, the team is feeding it a diet consisting of finished Beethoven works, earlier versions of those compositions, and the works of composers who influenced Beethoven.
“Take a particular Beethoven work, one for which extensive drafts still exist, like the Eroica Symphony,” project contributor Christine Siegert, who heads up the Beethoven Archive in Bonn, told German broadcaster Deutshe Welle. “If you feed the computer both the sketches and the final product, it can figure out how Beethoven works with sketches and where he goes from there.”
After the AI finishes writing the music, a human composer will take over to orchestrate it for the live performance. According to British composer and musicologist Barry Cooper, who wrote his own first movement for Beethoven’s 10th in 1988, the team still has a lot of ground to cover before April.
“I listened to a short excerpt that has been created,” Cooper told Agence France Press. “It did not sound remotely like a convincing reconstruction of what Beethoven intended. There is, however, scope for improvement with further work.”
READ MORE: Computer is set to complete Beethoven’s unfinished symphony [The Telegraph]
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