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Breaking the Wall to Computational Expressivity in Music Performance

Falling Walls Foundation | Gerhard Widmer


How an artificial intelligence can become a truly musical companion

Music has long been hailed as one of the last frontiers of human creativity; and music is not just composition, but also, and equally important, expressive performance. It is the performers and the musicians who bring a piece to life, producing an expressive rendition that brings out dramatic, affective, and emotional qualities which may engage and deeply affect listeners; this effect cannot be replicated by a machine – until now. Gerhard Widmer is an award-winning computer scientist, professor and head of the Institute of Computational Perception at Johannes Kepler University Linz. As part of their long-term research on AI & music, his team developed a computer accompanist that permits expressive co-performance between a human and a machine, based on learned computational models of expressivity. It is arguably the first demonstration of a machine playing together with a human in a truly musical way. At Falling Walls, Gerhard will talk about what makes music come alive, what it means for a computer to learn fundamental principles of expressive (piano) performance, and how, by using this learned knowledge, it can contribute to expressive music making – not as a replacement for human pianists, but as a musical companion.


Gerhard Widmer is the Breakthrough of the Year 2021 in the Art and Science category.

Gerhard Widmer

Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria

Gerhard Widmer is a computer scientist, head of the Institute of Computational Perception at Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria, and deputy director of the AI Lab at the Linz Institute of Technology. Widmer is one of the international pioneers of interdisciplinary research at the interface between computing, AI, and music. His work has been recognised by numerous national and international awards, including the Austrian START and Wittgenstein Prizes and two ERC Advanced Grants of the European Research Council (2015, 2021). 2021 he was elected into the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

More events with Gerhard Widmer

Tue | Nov 09, 2021 | 12.00 PM - 12.25 PM Berlin Time

Falling Walls Breakthrough Conversation with Gerhard Widmer

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About the Venue
Radialsystem Berlin
Holzmarktstraße 33
Berlin, 10243 Germany

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