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Old 05-10-2019, 04:52 PM   #1
Location: Rochester, NY
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Default Can a computer really replace an orchestra?

On May 5, 2019, the Wall Street Journal printed an article by Jacob Hale Russell and John Jurgensen describing an experiment they conducted. They asked two music professors to listen to 30-second passages of a Beethoven symphony created by a computer as well as passages by live orchestras. Both professors were unable to pick out the computer generated passage on their first try! The article goes on to describe the different types of technologies being developed to create music without musicians.

What are your thoughts on this?
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Old 05-19-2007, 10:39 PM   #2
Location: Florida
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Default Computerized Orchestras

I don't think the question should be whether or not a computer can replace an orchestra. They already have in forms of the 'tracks' that are replacing live musicians in pits around the world for anything from ballet and opera to broadway productions. I believe the true question should be: "Can computers replace the live orchestral experience?" Of course the answer to this is no. Another good question related to this topic could be what can we as orchestral organizations do to better 'modernize' our programs and draw in younger crowds. I'd be interested in seeing viewers ideas on this.
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Old 06-08-2019, 05:40 PM   #3
Location: Ontario Canada
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Default more than just a computer

I write orchestral music and at first I used a computer just to generate conductor's scores, but after I had templates set up I was able to hear computer realizations of the scores as well. As the technology improved I have been able to use orchestral emulations for clients (Tv and corporate mostly) who expect the same kind of orchestral score as movies, but with the budgets of commercials.

So...having worked in the trenches I know for a fact it is possible to have a computer realized score sound as real as an orchestra, but not without a lot of work! You need huge drives, and a fast throughput, cutting edge samplers and cutting edge libraries, plus you need to have both an understanding of what a real orchestra is capable of as well what your library is capable of as well. To make a mock-up truly realistic requires almost as much attention to detail as orchestrating on paper!

I guess the real answer to the question is: no computer can replace an orchestra, but a capable composer-engineer, a powerful computer, some top end libraries, lot's of time and good gear can certainly come close!

The main aspect of that use though isn't concert performances (obviously) it is movie scores and music to picture. In a lot of those cases, it is too expensive to hire an orchestra anyway, so while losing an audience or performance work seems to be a valid concern, I doubt a lot of orchestras have any real need to fear.
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Old 06-11-2019, 02:24 PM   #4
Location: Charlotte, NC
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The results of that test surprised me. They had a link to the excerpts, and I thought it was pretty clear which one was a computer. Anyone else try it?
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