Symphonova

February 5, 2019, 7:30 AM · Bad news for violinists' career prospects, or what?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGVUE8zgFEc

Replies (13)

Edited: February 5, 2019, 11:18 AM · Interesting. I am not a supporter of AI music composition. Unfortunately we will probably see more of it.

Here's a company that is developing a total Orchestra AI solution. Look out, the robots are coming;)
https://www.aiva.ai/creations


February 5, 2019, 12:38 PM · I'm not sure it has much to do with AI. I can see how the sound of a single violin might be manipulated and amplified to suggest a whole section, but what are all those instruments standing or hanging around in the room supposed to do? How can an unplayed violin produce anything more than a weak sympathetic vibration?
Edited: February 5, 2019, 1:11 PM · It looked to me as if the program makes a decision from one violin or other instrument input, then splits that out into individual parts. Not sure exactly how that decision is made in the software. I see it as maybe using some computer input for the decision making process.

To me this seems like a passing technology.Maybe an in between temporary solution. I mean, as a computer composer myself I don't see the point in getting a small orchestra involved at all. I would simply use an orchestra sound library and be done with it. If it's intended to be a live performance I personally wouldn't like something I knew was partially done in software. I also admit I don't know enough about this particular technology.Notice there is no counter point going on.This seems very limiting.

I could however, see the aiva technology used for fast film work by composers pushed by a timeline. I wouldn't personally use it. I admit I signed up for the beta out of sheer curiosity. I don't believe aiva will replace real musicians because it will be used by the film composition crowd who already use sound libraries. This will only manipulate the libraries using AI. I can't in all good conscience put my name on anything that used a computer to decide the composition. Studio One 4 DAW already has a suggested chord progression for composers. If they take the suggestions it gives, who's really making the music? I looked at it but haven't used it or attempted to use it. It might be helpful if you're stumped. Could help in understanding music theory if the user understands what's happening.

I'm going to have to start posting a disclaimer to all of my music that it was done with 100% human input. You can probably tell that already :P

February 5, 2019, 3:13 PM · This doesn't put large orchestras out of business. I think in the end it will create more opportunity than it displaces. Computers were predicted to ruin chess ... nope.
Edited: February 6, 2019, 2:39 AM · https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_QvbfR9EjU

Sounds impressive with a somewhat artificial acoustic, but how FGS does it work? Can you really create the sound of a full woodwind section with a handful of players? And the passive Chinese fiddles?! It looks as if half the orchestra are on tea break

February 6, 2019, 7:38 AM · I found the following online-

"Firstly, the acoustics of the venue itself is transformed by the Symphonova Versatile Acoustic System™, creating the best concert hall acoustics even in the least likely venues. Secondly, music played by individual musicians is augmented by specialist unique Instrumental Loudspeakers made out of the instruments themselves, whose speed, dynamics and playing style is seamlessly controlled by Symphonova’s newly developed conducting wand."

So what looks like instruments is really some kind of a loud speaker.It would appear that they have taken some already existing ideas and used them in a different way. They use electronic acoustic manipulation which has been around for a long time. They have taken acoustic manipulation and maybe tied control of that in with dynamics in remote control through the conductor wand. There are several ways they could be using the input from individual players. There's audio to midi conversion and/or audio effects that can duplicate one player's input to sound like multiple players. Once in the midi realm there are many possibilities. I don't see this as really much different than playing a key on a keyboard only it might be audio to midi conversion using a cello.Pushing one key can play a whole string section.Playing one string sounds like a section.
Wand>influences dynamics. Player input>influences external devices that sound multiple instruments. Instrument looking speakers>Influence spacial perception.
We won't know exactly in fine detail because you might have noticed the "TM" patented technology logo.
In most cases hybrids aren't really extremely good at anything. It isn't a full orchestra and it isn't anything a film composer would use unless they have money to blow and an interest in the technology.

I dare say it would be difficult to find backing for a hybrid robotic orchestra unless it was the technology on display and not the idea of musicians playing.I would bet money that it's a passing novelty.

February 6, 2019, 8:11 AM · Hi Timothy - yes, they seem to be struggling to find a market niche. I also can't help thinking there's a little smoke 'n mirrors involved. What on earth must a loudspeaker with a trombone for a radiator sound like? If used to play real or midi trombone sounds, they must get terribly tromboney. And those cellos standing around like the terracotta army that'll probably resonate more to the trombones than the cello sounds? The conductor ("symphonist") has a pretty smooth sales pitch but his "TED-like" talk doesn't inspire much confidence.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3p3WmEL6xE
The only public comment it's attracted in 7 years seems to be from a relative of the flautist.

In spite of all this, the cellist does play a very nice duet with herself in Mahler 4.

February 6, 2019, 9:16 AM · They used this in Toronto a couple of years ago for the orchestra in Les Mis - I know because my teacher at the time was 'the second violin section'. I went to the show (before I knew he was doing this) and you could not tell.

So maybe the real niche is musicals and maybe opera where you can not see the orchestra. The advantage of real musicians over an orchestra recording is that you can then lock onto the singers and not the other way round.

February 6, 2019, 9:50 AM · Following up on Elise's comment -- it's more musicians employed compared to the recording too. Wages vs. royalties.
Edited: February 6, 2019, 11:34 AM · @Elise Stanley, Interesting to get a first hand experience.

Steve, I agree with the smoke and mirrors idea. Depending on the cost I can see it used here and there. Probably cost prohibitive to some venues.I'm sure there's a learning curve.

Sure, the guy advertising it knows how to use it, he developed it.In smaller spaces you'll only get so many musicians inside regardless, so no matter what the outcome is musicians won't loose employment.

February 6, 2019, 12:37 PM · "Following up on Elise's comment -- it's more musicians employed compared to the recording too."

More?? One violinist did the job of a section that might have had 6 in it. OTOH more productions may use life music as a result.

Edited: February 6, 2019, 1:01 PM · I think Paul's point was that if the orchestra's contribution is pre-recorded the nightly musician count drops to zero (apart from the conductor and I guess the singers if you stretch the definition a bit). Maybe your teacher could let us know whether the pit in Toronto was populated with playerless violins and cellos like we see on Symphonova's youtube clips? But your point about the Symphonova orchestra being able to follow the singers rather than vice versa is well taken
February 8, 2019, 12:27 PM · Nothing to do with faking, but in a tango quintet I had considered feeding the rich vibrations of an Zeta violin (where there was a stereo pickup under each string, on top of the bridge) into a small cello body...

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