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AI / Arts / Baltimore

AI can’t replace the violinist’s hands, but it can generate musical compositions for Baltimore’s Symphony Orchestra

Locust Point's Mindgrub Technologies partnered with the BSO and Greater Baltimore Committee to bring AI to musical life with "AI in A Minor."


Artificial intelligence has made remarkable strides in recent years, demonstrating an ability to mimic human behavior in various activities. 

While it has yet to master the intricacies of human hands in art, it has shown immense potential in transforming the creative landscape. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, in partnership with Mindgrub Technologies and the Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC), is venturing into this innovative territory with “AI in A Minor.” The event at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, August 9 will aim to explore the impact of AI on artistic expression.

GBC president and CEO Mark Anthony Thomas said in a written statement that this event combines various entities at the intersection of industries and trends that his economic development organization is trying to uplift. 

“Our region’s innovation economy and dynamic tech talent will transform science, logistics and culture and shape the future of business,” Thomas said. “The collaboration … is a celebration of the all-hands-on-deck approach we’ll take to ensure our economic aspirations are accessible and leverage our existing institutions as the foundation for growth.”

Grab Tickets to “AI in A Minor”

The event will include a mix of VR- and AI-driven exhibits in the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall lobby before a performance of works that include pieces composed using generative AI and inspired by Philip Glass, Nat King Cole and Taylor Swift. It concludes with a panel discussion featuring Mindgrub leader Todd Marks and other technologists and creative professionals discussing AI’s possible shaping of future artistic expression. Mindgrub CTO and VP of Engineering Jason Michael Perry, who also serves on the BSO’s board, said that the event will also highlight the tools used to create “AI in A Minor.” 

“It has been an immensely enriching learning journey,” Perry said. “Not only will we witness our music being performed by some of the world’s most extraordinary musicians, but we will also seize the chance to delve into the realm of AI, sharing our creative process, the tools employed and educating people about artificial intelligence, its mechanics and the marvel of creating large language models. This knowledge is applicable to everyone, regardless of their background or location, empowering them to explore the endless possibilities AI offers in their lives.”

As for those tools, they ranged from a mix of Amazon Web Services components to popular AI tech like ChatGPT.

“We had no prior knowledge of the tools or their capabilities,” Perry said. “Initially, we explored options like OpenAI and ChatGPT. Our experience with machine learning and artificial intelligence centered mainly around Amazon Web Services [AWS], specifically SageMaker. Starting with AWS’s products, we aimed to construct our own substantial language model, train it diligently and harness its potential for our endeavors.”

“We engaged in an exciting collaboration using Riffusion, a latent text-to-image diffusion model capable of generating spectrogram images given any text input,” Perry added. “Additionally, we collaborated with college professors at Stanford and Carnegie Mellon and their tool, ‘Anticipation,’ for generative fill-in music pieces. We also explored using IVR and AWS’ ‘DeepComposer‘ to create amazing AI-generated music. Transforming the music into sheet music through ‘LilyPond‘ was an incredible process, enriching our learning experience.”

Mark Hanson, president and CEO of the BSO, said that Perry brought the idea to the BSO and facilitated the connections with other partner organizations. Hanson tied the project to some of the BSO’s other work in connecting classical music with contemporary trends, like its Pops series

We’re always interested in these types of collaborations, this type of experimentation because we want to be as accessible and relevant as possible to the broader population,” he said. “Who isn’t interested in cutting-edge technology?”

For the BSO, exploring new horizons and blending centuries-old repertoire with these AI-generated compositions is an integral part of artistic growth.

“We’ve always focused another part of our brain on surrounding classical music with other genres and concert experiences that, in our opinion, don’t interfere with but beautifully complement the classical performances,” Hanson said. 

Ultimately, the blending of technology and artistry represents the essence of “AI in A Minor.” The event aims to showcase the potential of AI in revolutionizing the music industry while also highlighting the importance of preserving the human touch and creativity in artistic endeavors.

The exploration of AI’s creative capabilities could open doors to unexplored artistic territories, challenging traditional notions of what constitutes art.

Companies: Mindgrub

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