No need to dance to the music, when you can music to the dance.
On November 22 the Tokyo University of the Arts hosted a very unique concert in which the star of the show was not a famous musician, but rather an AI system capable of turning dance into music.
Developed by Yamaha and dubbed the “Dance Recognition Piano Performance System” (dansu ninshiki piano ensō shisutemu, ダンス認識ピアノ演奏システム), this interesting piece of technology is, as you would expect given its name, able to “recognize” dance movements and then turn those dance movements into musical notes that are then played by a piano.
Kaiji Moriyama, the man whose dance moves got turned into music
On stage during the November 22 event was the accomplished Japanese dancer Kaiji Moriyama. It was his movements that the AI system turned into some very interesting sounding music. This was accomplished thanks to a combination of sensors on his wrists, feet and back that measured his movements, the AI system that turned those movements into musical notes and Yamaha’s Disklavier piano (essentially a high-tech version of old player pianos). The whole performance was certainly a memorable one with Moriyama dancing intensely near a player-less piano that was serenading the people present with the audio version of Moriyama’s movements.
Moriyama and the high-tech piano were not along though. They were joined on stage by the Scharoun Ensemble, a chamber music group from Germany that consists of members of the Berliner Philharmoniker. They provided some additional musical accompaniment during this peculiar concert, however, it seems likely that most people weren’t paying much attention to them.
So what does the music produced by Yamaha’s AI system sound like? Find out by watching the 90-second highlight video below which Yamaha released late last month.
It may not be the next hit pop song but it’s definitely interesting. You can’t help but wonder what the point of all this is though. Yamaha tried their best to address this question in a statement, explaining that they hope systems like this will allow humans to use AI as a bridge between them and their musical instruments, thus allowing them to express themselves more directly and freely. Not sure if that’s a satisfying answer, but it’s something.
Yamaha also released a 5-minute long video showing more highlights of the concert, along with remarks by Yamaha employees and Kaiji Moriyama. You can find that video below.