Hosted by Department of Music and the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London
New digital technologies—particularly the algorithms of streaming platforms such as Spotify—are having an unprecedented and little-understood effect on the way music is created and valued today. The music industry, of which the UK is a global centre, finds itself in a crucial transitional moment in which these new algorithmic and AI music technologies are developing apace. While Spotify’s algorithm is already reshaping how music is valued in monetary terms, advances in AI are raising wider questions about the role of human creativity itself. How these technologies are configured and deployed in the immediate term—by established companies such as Spotify, Apple and Amazon, as well as by innovative tech startups—will transform and shape the profession of musician over the next few decades.
What motivates an algorithm? What programming decisions are being made, in places like London and San Francisco, that will shape the future of musical composition, performance, and consumption across the globe? How are these choices being informed? At the heart of these questions lie deeper philosophical concerns about how algorithms and AI—such as Facebook’s News Feed, Google Search and Amazon’s Alexa—are increasingly mediating our social and political lives, shaping our moral and ethical choices in the process. What role, for example, will AI play in shaping musical tastes of the future and how will composers respond? As the algorithms of Spotify and YouTube become ever more ‘global’ in their reach, what happens to musical practices and creativity in large and increasingly important parts of the world, such as South Asia, China and South America, that are frequently overlooked by a more western-centered music industry?
This interdisciplinary and industry-engaged symposium seeks to explore these questions via a range of ‘algorithmic objects’ – recommender systems, AI compositional tools, metadata sets etc. – with a view to developing new methodological approaches for publication in a high-ranking journal special issue.
The format of the day (subject to change) will include: 1. Key literature group discussion(s), 2. Individual 10-15 minute ‘algorithmic object’ presentation + discussion/troubleshooting, 3. Methodology roundtable.
Proposals for presentations/demonstrations of up to 15 minutes are invited, from any discipline or industry, that seek to interrogate a particular algorithmic music object.
Presentation/demo titles and abstracts of 250 words should be sent to by 1st February 2019. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by 15th February 2019.
Programme Committee: Thomas Hodgson (Department of Music, King’s College London), Jonathan Gray (Department of the Digital Humanities, King’s College London)