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Prof. Mark Gotham, who has been Professor of Music Theory at the Department of Music and Musicology at TU Dortmund University since 1 October 2021, is an expert in combining computer technologies and music. As part of an international research team, he successfully completed Beethoven’s 10th Symphony – almost 200 years after his death – with the help of AI. The world premiere took place on Saturday, 9 October, at 7 p.m. in Bonn and was broadcasted live online.
In his research, Prof. Mark Gotham develops computer-aided methods that can expand knowledge about musical structures. By appointing him, TU Dortmund University has brought on board its very first musician capable of cooperating with the Department of Computer Science in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). He demonstrated his capabilities by contributing to the completion of Beethoven’s 10th Symphony.
AI project with the unfinished 10th Symphony
When Ludwig van Beethoven died in 1827, he left behind nine complete symphonies, but also one that was incomplete. Only the initial fragments of his 10th Symphony have been found. How would Beethoven’s 10th Symphony have sounded if he had managed to finish it? An AI project at Deutsche Telekom has been looking into this question since 2019. A team of ten international experts from the fields of AI and musicology developed an artificial intelligence system that can “understand” Beethoven’s style.
“The project raises a lot of interesting questions, particularly about the nature of the possible interactions between humans and computers,” says Prof. Mark Gotham, whose role within the project is to combine AI with music. “How can works be completed? Beethoven’s 10th Symphony offers fertile ground for experimenting with such a task,” he adds. There is only a small number of surviving drafts, but these are enough to provide valuable starting points for the project, but they are so sparse that most scholars have come to the conclusion that the work cannot be completed through traditional means. This is where artificial intelligence comes into play.
Teaching AI with around 10,000 pieces of music
In order for the AI to “think” like Beethoven, it requires a lot of data. Since the start of the project, the developers have taught the AI using around 10,000 pieces of music. They used compositions and notes by Beethoven, but also works by musicians and composers who can be proven to have inspired and influenced Beethoven during his lifetime, such as Johann Sebastian Bach. This made it possible for the AI to continue writing – and ultimately complete – Beethoven’s 10th Symphony by using an algorithm and interacting with the experts.
With a computerized project such as this, there are many musical decisions to be made. What kind of music should be generated? What examples are relevant for AI to learn? It is not all about interpretation, flexibility and creativity, as important as these aspects are. It is also necessary to incorporate the computational aspect of human musical knowledge – because developing as a musician involves learning about recurring patterns by dealing with existing works. “For me, finding satisfactory answers to these questions is a very interesting and rewarding challenge,” says Prof. Mark Gotham.
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Location & approach
The campus of TU Dortmund University is located close to interstate junction Dortmund West, where the Sauerlandlinie A 45 (Frankfurt-Dortmund) crosses the Ruhrschnellweg B 1 / A 40. The best interstate exit to take from A 45 is “Dortmund-Eichlinghofen” (closer to South Campus), and from B 1 / A 40 “Dortmund-Dorstfeld” (closer to North Campus). Signs for the university are located at both exits. Also, there is a new exit before you pass over the B 1-bridge leading into Dortmund.
To get from North Campus to South Campus by car, there is the connection via Vogelpothsweg/Baroper Straße. We recommend you leave your car on one of the parking lots at North Campus and use the H-Bahn (suspended monorail system), which conveniently connects the two campuses.
TU Dortmund University has its own train station (“Dortmund Universität”). From there, suburban trains (S-Bahn) leave for Dortmund main station (“Dortmund Hauptbahnhof”) and Düsseldorf main station via the “Düsseldorf Airport Train Station” (take S-Bahn number 1, which leaves every 15 or 30 minutes). The university is easily reached from Bochum, Essen, Mülheim an der Ruhr and Duisburg.
You can also take the bus or subway train from Dortmund city to the university: From Dortmund main station, you can take any train bound for the Station “Stadtgarten”, usually lines U41, U45, U 47 and U49. At “Stadtgarten” you switch trains and get on line U42 towards “Hombruch”. Look out for the Station “An der Palmweide”. From the bus stop just across the road, busses bound for TU Dortmund University leave every ten minutes (445, 447 and 462). Another option is to take the subway routes U41, U45, U47 and U49 from Dortmund main station to the stop “Dortmund Kampstraße”. From there, take U43 or U44 to the stop “Dortmund Wittener Straße”. Switch to bus line 447 and get off at “Dortmund Universität S”.
The AirportExpress is a fast and convenient means of transport from Dortmund Airport (DTM) to Dortmund Central Station, taking you there in little more than 20 minutes. From Dortmund Central Station, you can continue to the university campus by interurban railway (S-Bahn). A larger range of international flight connections is offered at Düsseldorf Airport (DUS), which is about 60 kilometres away and can be directly reached by S-Bahn from the university station.
The H-Bahn is one of the hallmarks of TU Dortmund University. There are two stations on North Campus. One (“Dortmund Universität S”) is directly located at the suburban train stop, which connects the university directly with the city of Dortmund and the rest of the Ruhr Area. Also from this station, there are connections to the “Technologiepark” and (via South Campus) Eichlinghofen. The other station is located at the dining hall at North Campus and offers a direct connection to South Campus every five minutes.
The facilities of TU Dortmund University are spread over two campuses, the larger Campus North and the smaller Campus South. Additionally, some areas of the university are located in the adjacent “Technologiepark”.