Verena Fulde


Artificial intelligence presents "Angels" in a new guise

How did "Angels (Beethoven AI)" come about? Guy Chambers, co-writer and producer, and Matthias Röder, project manager Beethoven X, provide the details.

Artificial intelligence presents "Angels" in a new guise

Artificial intelligence presents "Angels" in a new guise. © DTAG

"Angels (Beethoven AI)" is the result of a true century collaboration between Robbie Williams and the Beethoven AI. That is, the Artificial Intelligence (AI) that already completed Beethoven's 10th Symphony last year. Together with "Angels" co-writer and producer Guy Chambers and composer Jules Buckley, the Beethoven AI team created a special work under the direction of Matthias Röder. " I was initially a little unsure as to whether a collaboration between humans and machine learning would create anything worthwhile. It was interesting that someone had created a Beethoven "superbrain" that would be used to finish the 10th Symphony, and when they suggested putting Angels into this computer I was skeptical but up for the challenge," explains Guy Chambers.

The creation process: man and machine working hand in hand

Guy Chambers and Jules Buckley first rearranged the basic structure of the song. In close exchange with AI project manager Matthias Röder and composer Walter Werzowa, they had the artificial intelligence interweave the Moonlight Sonata with the intro to "Angels." For the listeners should be able to hear the newness already in the first bars of the song.

For the instrumental part, KI was freer and drew from all of Beethoven's works.
The collaboration with the algorithms is not straightforward. It takes several passes and rarely is the first suggestion convincing. The AI makes several suggestions, from which the human then selects the best one and sends it back to the machine for further development. "The AI developed different variations of interweaving Beethoven's style with "Angels." After about ten iterations, the AI threw out a variant that convinced everyone," Matthias Röder explains the development process. 

"Using the very human skills of Jules Buckley the arranger, we were able to turn the AI sketches into something coherent, and I think the final result is interesting and effective," adds Guy Chambers.

Handing down the centuries

Working with an AI that "understands" Beethoven's system effectively allows today's artists to collaborate with musicians who lived much earlier.
An AI-assisted composition process could soon become more normal. "Currently, it still requires tremendous computing power and large servers. But it won't stay that way. Such algorithms will soon be available to everyone. And I expect that we will all have such composition apps on our smartphones in the near future," Röder explains.
The result is a work from a single mold. This can be experienced live for the first time on November 15 at the Telekom Street Gig in Hamburg.


Beethoven, Robbie Williams and AI

World star Robbie Williams presents a new version of "Angels" based on Telekom's Beethoven AI.