Watch when an orchestra ‘played’ AI and big data at the Louvre

26 Sep 2016

Symphonologie was showcased at the Louvre. Image: Shanti Hesse/Shutterstock

Accenture has teamed up with a coder, an orchestral composer and a datavis company to put artificial intelligence (AI) and big data to music, in a project called Symphonologie.

Looking to combine data with art, Symphonologie’s visual music piece has three influences: business, technology and the new digital world.

To combine all of these into one artistic experience, Accenture looked to Hannah Davis, a musician and creative technologist; Rare Volume, an interactive design and data company; and composer Mathieu Lamboley.


The project began with Davis’ thesis, which dealt with putting music to words. She built a computer programme called TransProse, which reads bodies of text and determines the “densities” of eight emotions: joy, sadness, anger, disgust, anticipation, surprise, trust, and fear.

Establishing whether each is a positive or a negative when appearing in text, it creates music including a tailored tempo, varying octaves and specific notes. Davis was supplied with business articles to run through her software, which created sentiment and came up with a basic body of music.

“It’s taking something completely classic like a piece of composed music, but it’s generating it from a computer,” said Davis, who was happy when Accenture took her work and shared it with Lamboley, a composer from France.

“He was going to make a symphony out of it,” said Davis, who “loved hearing” Lamboley’s thought process as the pair worked together. “He could comprehend the whole piece and find the motifs that really worked.”

From Lamboley, the composed piece of music was sent on to Rare Volume, to create some visuals to accompany it for a performance at the Louvre in Paris.

The New York company uses science and maths to build their visuals, often based on natural systems such as wind circulation, water movement and even atmospheric pressures on Earth.

The company then finds ways to reproduce that aesthetic with code, so it can be manipulated in ways not seen in nature. This Accenture project “was a challenge worth undertaking”, said Robert Hodgin, interactive director and co-founder at Rare Volume.

The finished project was presented at the Louvre last week (23 September), with the organisers happy to have achieved their primary goal of reflecting the “powerful outcomes” that come from business and technology converging, according to Accenture.

This is something Davis, Lamboley and the Rare Volume team believe they have achieved, bringing in the entire catalogue of the STEAM acronym in one short piece.

“This project is unique because its business articles run through my AI, TransProse, then given to a human composer, then Rare Volume, and performed at the Louvre,” said Davis. “I think that’s the first time that has ever been done.”

“It’s easy to mistake computer driven art as being made by computers,” said Andrew Bell, technical director at Rare Volume. “There is still an artist doing visual design. The medium may be code, the means technology, but ultimately there’s an artist as any other form of art would have.”

Symphonologie was showcased at the Louvre. Image: Shanti Hesse/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic