AI Symphony: Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro & Human Composer Complete Schubert’s Timeless Classical Piece

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

In a unique partnership, Huawei and composer Lucas Cantor finished Schubert’s incomplete Symphony no. 8. Though the piece has been completed before, it’s the first time the final two parts are the result of a collaboration between a prestigious composer and AI technology.

For unknown reasons, Schubert’s Symphony no. 8 – one of the composer’s most famous works – has never been completed. Started in 1822, the symphony’s original score includes only the first two parts and several fragments of the final two movements.

Huawei Mate 20 & Nothing Else

Huawei used its Mate 20 smartphone technology to compose the final two parts, and contacted Emmy-award winning composer Lucas Cantor to partner with the AI in the process.

What’s remarkable is that the chipset and the smartphone itself are completely unmodified, the feat being accomplished using entirely standard hardware available in all Mate 20 smartphones.

The main focus of Huawei’s team was teaching the AI to compose like Schubert.

In a Digital Trends interview, Huawei’s head of handset portfolio Arne Herkelmann explains the teaching process: “In the beginning it was all Schubert, so the A.I. could understand what Schubert did. In the later process, we also trained it on composers we knew influenced Schubert to make sure there was this richer background and context to the work.”

An AI-Human Partnership

To complete the symphony, Huawei invited composer Lucas Cantor to partner with the AI. Though the melodies were entirely generated by the artificial intelligence, Cantor played an essential part in putting the final pieces together and giving it the necessary emotional depth.

Cantor says: “The smartphone couldn’t have written it without me, but it would not have been the same piece without the smartphone. I didn’t start writing until I saw what the A.I. had done. I had some ideas of how the unfinished symphony would go, a framework of the form. The first time I heard the melodies made by the smartphone, I was struck by how interesting they were. There’s this one melody in the third movement that that has a major third going to a minor third that makes it really eerie, but very beautiful. It’s not a melody I would have come up with.”

The new version was performed for the first time on February 4, at Cadogan Hall in London.

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