Music Today: the intersection of art and science

A couple of days ago, I had the chance to attend Accenture’s International Women’s Day 2019 conference in London centred on innovation and inclusion.

There, I was able to listen to Isabel Garvey, Managing Director of Abbey Road Studios (yes, the same studio that produced a large number of albums by The Beatles), speak about changing trends and the increased use of Artificial Intelligence in the music industry.

As someone who knows very little about Artificial Intelligence and does not often connect technology with music, her insights were illuminating. Citing changes in music consumption that have taken place over the last two decades, specifically the move from the CD to (illegal and legal) digital downloading to streaming services, Garvey highlighted how the music industry is in constant flux and must adapt to the influence of new technologies in music and the changing ways in which people access it. Abbey Road Studios have managed to maintain relevant in the digital era by investing in equipment and in starting Abbey Road RED: ‘an incubator for start-ups in music technology, which currently have a collective valuation of $100 million’.

The sound of the near tomorrow is inclusive.

All sorts of cool programmes have materialised, such as the award winning app Topline which allows musicians to record ideas conveniently on their phone without the need to transcribe notes. Beyond this, there have been apps which can turn singing and humming into sheet music, technologies which allow for ‘immersive sound’ experience which Garvey posits will ‘jump past virtual reality’, and developers who are working on speakers sensitive to the music tastes of who is in the room. Could these new technologies indicate the entry into a period where music is personalised, rather than commercialised, an increase in the diversity of sound, and greater interest in music from people not traditionally linked to the field?

I find it interesting how the academic focus on the interdisciplinary is moving into fields that may otherwise be perceived as narrow - music is for musicians and creatives; technology for engineers and scientists. I can’t help but wonder what the sounds of the future will be like, sounds emerging from the combined efforts of musicians and lyricists, data scientists and engineers working in collaboration with creative applications. The sound of the near tomorrow is inclusive, and I cannot wait to experience it!

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Yasmin NguyenComment