AI playing the piano

Can AI play piano In 2023? (Explained)

If you are interested in the capabilities of AI, you may be wondering just how much computers are capable of. Can AI play piano?

Learning to play the piano is a complicated process. To do this, AI must understand the complex movements and hand gestures that professional pianists have mastered for decades.

Despite the complexity, AIs can play piano given the proper training and even play some pretty challenging pieces.

In this article, we’ll learn more about how AI handles things like playing the piano and its capabilities.

We’ll briefly explore how this works, too.

Let’s go!

Can AI Play Piano?

Humans have now built AIs capable of recreating the hand movements needed to play the piano.

One notable company working on this is Massive Technologies, based in Canada.

can AI play piano?
Can AI play piano?

Their technology can listen to a composition and recreate it with virtual hands running across a keyboard.

To do this, the company used the following process:

  1. The AI observed experts playing the piano and focused on how their hands moved to reach the correct keys.
  2. The AI modeled a pair of 3D human-like hands and animated them using its knowledge of how the performers played.
  3. The AI then extended that beyond the training set to figure out how to animate the hands playing tunes that it had never heard before

A video of Massive Technologies AI playing a complicated piece learned in this way is available online.

After being trained by observing the work of professional pianists, the AI could find its positioning for many of the pieces.

If you watch the AI and the human playing in time with each other, it is noticeable that the AI is not simply copying the movements from its training set.

In the same way, humans approach the piece; differently; the AI finds its positions and movements while playing.

In many ways, the most impressive feat is not that it manages to hit the right notes at the correct times but that it does so in a human manner.

The AI can even mimic specific pianists’ different styles and techniques.

There are still a few moments in some of the more complex pieces when the illusion slips and the AI makes a movement that doesn’t appear natural, but these can be fed back into the learning algorithms to improve them further.

How Complicated Can AI Piano Playing Be?

At present, AI piano playing is complex!

It is by no means perfect, and you can certainly still see the difference at times, but it’s surprising just how much can be achieved by AI already.

Of course, if you give a piano AI an “unplayable” piece, such as a black midi, it will be unable to keep up.

Black midi pieces usually contain billions and sometimes even trillions of notes, and they are far too fast for a human pianist to play.

Nobody has successfully played one of these pieces.

The truth of AI: even an advanced system cannot play a black midi piece.

If you watch the Massive Technologies’ AI attempt it, you will see the two hands glitching and struggling while a flurry of confused noise is produced.

That isn’t surprising, given the complexity of the piece and the fact that it is beyond human pianists too.

However, some people believe that AI will one day be capable of such pieces, and AI has sometimes done other “impossible” things.

Some of the most impressive achievements by AIs include:

  • Being unbeatable at chess
  • Driving cars safely
  • Detecting human diseases through smell
  • Identifying when the fruit is ripe
  • Playing complex games like poker
  • Recognizing and responding to human emotions
  • Interpreting brain signals and translating these so that they can “speak” for humans

That’s an impressive list, so it’s no wonder some people think AI will one day be able to play some of the “unplayable” piano pieces.

At the moment, though, it’s not quite there and won’t be for some time.

What’s The Value Of An AI Playing Piano?

There’s a lot of controversy surrounding AI at the moment, and some people feel there is no value in teaching computers to play the piano.

A lot of the value of art stems from the emotions that create it – and a computer cannot have these emotions.

Therefore, art and music generated by a computer are less valuable; however, some people feel this.

AI Piano

Many individuals argue that piano music created by AI has the same value as piano music created by a human, but everyone will have different feelings about this.

There are also practical applications to teaching a computer to play piano.

The technology mentioned above, for example, is intended to help students learn how to play piano.

They can watch the hands moving to different pieces of music and imitate them.

This might make piano lessons cheaper and more accessible, or possibly even free.

While many people would still prefer to learn piano from a human, it’s worth considering the value this offers to those who can’t afford it.

There are some question marks over whether this kind of learning is as practical and helpful as learning directly from a teacher who can listen to, watch, and correct the student.

However, there is still clear value in the AI’s ability to play the piano. Additionally, it’s interesting to see just how much it can do!

Conclusion

The idea of a computer being able to play the piano might sound far-fetched, but it’s already a reality.

Trained AIs can produce pieces of piano music that sound and look almost as good as a human pianist’s work.

AI offers an enormous amount of potential for teaching and the future development of music.

References

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2265585-ai-can-grade-your-skill-at-piano-by-watching-you-play/

https://www.vice.com/en/article/v7m8xd/watch-these-ai-hands-attempt-to-play-an-unplayable-song-on-the-piano

https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2019/11/11/13-mind-blowing-things-artificial-intelligence-can-already-do-today/

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