Today@Sam Article

Professor's AI-Assisted Software Contributes To Opera Creation

Nov. 29, 2023
SHSU Media Contact: Mikah Boyd

By Hunter King

In a groundbreaking mixture of art and technology, Sam Houston State University Associate Professor of Mathematics Martin Malandro revolutionized classical music composition with an artificial intelligence (AI)-assisted software that played a pivotal role in creating the world's first AI-assisted opera, "Andromeda." This historic event, part of Vilnius, Lithuania’s 700th-anniversary celebrations, showcased the immense potential of AI as a co-creative tool in music making and composition.

Malandro, who described himself an amateur composer with a smile on his face, introduced the AI-music software, which was trained exclusively on copyright-free and permissively licensed music, designed to boost the creative process. Proffesormalandrophotos-extra.jpeg

Released as open source, Malandro's model remains accessible to anyone who wants to use it, providing composers with a unique tool for inspiration without jeopardizing the human element of performance.

“I'm not interested in creating tools that can put people out of work or that are designed to put people out of work,” Malandro said. “I'm just trying to give people additional tools that they can use in their creative workflows.”

Malandro's innovation garnered international attention when Lithuanian professor and composer Mantautas Krukauskas recognized the software's potential.

Krukauskas, along with early music researcher and conductor Māris Kupčs, used the AI-assisted software to recreate the musical score of "Andromeda" in a style reminiscent of early Baroque opera. The result was unprecedented.

“[Krukauskas] worked meticulously, section by section, using the AI for inspiration in each section,” Malandro said. “The AI here is being used as a co-creative tool for creating the score. It doesn't just flat out generate the score; it sort of helps give you inspiration and ideas. It essentially writes the notes on the page, and the user is free to change the notes it writes afterward or reject its output and ask it to try again. Then human beings still perform the opera. It's completely human performed.”

Malandro's journey into the realm of AI and music was a combination of his passions and expertise from different aspects of his life and career at Sam Houston. Using spare time during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Malandro took on the project which took years to complete.

“I got into AI because of my background and my interest in algorithms and also my background in music,” Malandro said. “It turned out that AI did hold the promise for creating these generative music models and these interactive composition music models.”

Looking back and reflecting on his work, Malandro expressed his satisfaction with the impact it has had on the world of musical creation.

“I'm quite proud of it,” Malandro said. “I'm really happy that other people find it useful and interesting.”

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