Robert Laidlow

Robert is the PRiSM Researcher in AI-Assisted Composition in Association with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra.

His research includes working with computer scientists to develop new tools using artificial intelligence for the compositional process and collaborating with artists in other genres using AI as part of their work.

He is currently working with programmer Parag Mital for an event with harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani at the Barbican Centre, and with the BBC Philharmonic on a work to be premiered at the University of Salford Research Festival.

He is in the first year of his PhD at the RNCM funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council.

Since the beginning of my PhD, I have been very busy working toward a few big projects. AI is a huge area of research, and is not nearly as simple as just clicking a button to produce some music.

There are a hundred ways I could use AI in my compositional output, from inspiration to audio genesis to score creation to real-time collaboration with a  performing computer – but what I do has to fit with my own artistic goals, and be of interest to the programmer(s) I am collaborating with (in this sense it is a little like an opera, ballet or more traditional collaborative task).

I have been busy speaking with experts across the world in their particular fields of AI, some of whom I am lucky enough to count amongst my PhD supervisors, and creating a detailed plan that is both ambitious and realistic to push my work in new directions for these big projects.

I don’t think there could be a better place to do this than the RNCM. The composition school has an atmosphere of innovation, which you can hear by going to see any concert including student works, and this provides both a support network but also a creative backboard that I can bounce ideas off. The college is also very interested in supporting forward-thinking compositional research, and there are already plans underway for projects involving my research and that of similar composers. – Robert Laidlow

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