In Search of the Horowitz Factor
(invited lecture for ALT 2002 and DS 2002)
Author: Gerhard Widmer
Department of Medical Cybernetics and Artificial Intelligence,
University of Vienna,
Austrian Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence, Vienna
The potential of machine learning and automatic scientific discovery
for various branches of science has been convincingly demonstrated in
years, mainly in the natural sciences ((bio)chemistry, genetics,
etc.). But is computer-based scientific discovery also possible in less
easily quantifiable domains like art?
This talk will present the latest results of a long-term
research project that uses AI technology to investigate one of the most
fascinating - and at the same time highly elusive - phenomena in music:
expressive music performance. We study how skilled musicians (concert
pianists, in particular) make music 'come alive', how they express and
communicate their understanding of the musical and emotional content of
pieces by shaping various parameters like tempo, timing, dynamics,
articulation, etc. The audience will be taken on a grand tour of a
discovery enterprise, from the intricacies of data gathering (which
require new AI methods) through novel approaches to data visualisation
the way to automated data analysis and inductive learning. It will be
that even a seemingly intangible phenomenon like musical expression can
be transformed into something that can be studied formally, and that the
computer can indeed discover some fundamental (and sometimes surprising)
principles underlying the art of music performance.
The title of the talk refers to the late Vladimir Horowitz, one of the
most famous pianists of the 20th century, who symbolizes like few others
the fascination that great performers hold for the general audience.
Explaining the secret behind the art and magic of such a great master is
an incredibly thrilling goal. Whether the 'Horowitz Factor' will indeed
be revealed in this presentation is, however, rather doubtful ...
©Copyright 2002 Autor and Springer