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Prof. Mark Gotham Involved in the Completion of Beethoven’s 10th Symphony

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Portrait of Professor Mark Gotham © Jerome Woodwark
Prof. Mark Gotham specializes in the use of artificial intelligence in music.

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.

Contact for further in­for­mation:

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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”.

Site Map of TU Dort­mund Uni­ver­sity (Second Page in English).