Resonances - Visionary music creation connecting humans, robots and AI. - Recap 8 October 2020.

Insights into the sounds of tomorrow with Renzo Vitale and Guests.

BMW-Welt Future Forum: Resonances
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In the second episode of Resonances with Renzo Vitale and friends we explore sound at the interface between man and machine. How can machines function as an extension of human expression? How can we express our senses through modern technologies? What sounds and musical performances can AI and robots create? Our guests Moritz Simon Geist, performer, musicologist and robotics engineer, Portrait XO, Artist, and Dan Tepfer, Jazz pianist and composer, did take us on an emotional journey through modern technologies and sound performance. 

Moritz Simon Geist describes his art as an extension of his human capability: he uses robots to create music. Basically, his idea is to take the sounds and beats that are normally generated electronically with a computer, and transport them into the real world. So, techno sounds are not produced by his computer, but by robots that he and his team build.

Portrait XO is an interdisciplinary Artist born in LA but based in Berlin. In their talk, Portrait XO and Renzo Vitale explored which role AI plays in music and “what can creative AI reveal about ourselves?”, as her music is mostly created by AI. Inspired by emerging technology, Portrait XO researches computational creativity, human-machine collaboration, and explores new formats & applications for forward-thinking art and music. Even though Portrait XO states clearly that AI and robots will not replace any human live performance.

Live from Paris, Jazz pianist and composer Dan Tepfer, performed his show “Natural Machines”. “Natural Machines” explores in real time the intersection between science and art, between coding and improvisation, between digital algorithms and the rhythms of the heart. To Dan the music he loves most exists in between these two worlds, the mechanical and the natural processes. As Dan’s puts it “if we accept that computers can augment and empower a person’s artistic vision, rather than replacing it, we open up infinite possibilities.”

If you want to get to know more about our second episode of Resonances with Renzo Vitale, watch the recording of the whole event here.


BMW Welt Renzo Vitale

Renzo Vitale is an Italian pianist, composer, sound designer, acoustic engineer and artist. His creative process involves an interrogation of the relation between music, science and human perception.

Renzo holds a PhD in Acoustics from RWTH University (Germany), two Master degrees (in Electronic Engineering and in Piano) as well as further studies in electronic music, composition and conducting.

In 2015 he joined the Research & Innovation Center of BMW Group in Munich as a Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) Engineering Specialist. Since 2017 he is responsible for Sound Design at BMW, MINI and Rolls Royce. 

Renzo was scientific curator of the Season 2017/2018 of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra with the project Sound and Space. He has been appointed a Fellow of the German Government's Competency Center for the Cultural and Creative Industries and he also is a board member of SPIELMOTOR e.V.

BMW Welt Dan Tepfer

One of his generation’s extraordinary talents, Dan Tepfer has earned an international reputation as a pianist-composer of wide-ranging ambition, individuality and drive — one “who refuses to set himself limits” (France’s Télérama). The New York City-based Tepfer, born in 1982 in Paris to American parents, has performed around the world with some of the leading lights in jazz and classical music; he has also crafted a discography striking for its breadth and depth, encompassing probing solo improvisation and intimate duets, as well as trio albums rich in their rhythmic verve, melodic allure and the leader’s keen-eared taste in songs no matter the genre.

Tepfer earned global acclaim for his 2011 Sunnyside album Goldberg Variations / Variations, a disc that sees him performing J.S. Bach’s masterpiece as well as improvising upon it — to “elegant, thoughtful and thrilling” effect (New York magazine). Tepfer’s newest album, Natural Machines, stands as one of his most ingeniously forward-minded yet; called “fascinating and ingenious” by Rolling Stone, this solo project five years in the making finds him exploring in real time the intersection between science and art, between coding and improvisation, between digital algorithms and the rhythms of the heart.

Tepfer has also composed for various ensembles beyond jazz. His piano quintet Solar Spiral was premiered in 2016 at Chicago’s Ravinia Festival, with Tepfer performing alongside the Avalon String Quartet. Tepfer has received commissions from the Prague Castle Guard Orchestra for two works: the suite Algorithmic Transform (2015) and a concerto for symphonic wind band and improvising piano, The View from Orohena (2010). In summer 2019, Tepfer unveiled his jazz-trio arrangement of Stravinsky’s Baroque-channeling Pulcinella.

BMW Welt Moritz Simon Geist

Bass, Techno, and Robots! Moritz Simon Geist is a media artist, engineer and robotic musician. Each sound in his mind-blowing performances is played by robots. Small motors beat on metal, 3D-printed robo-kalimbas vibrate with deep bass sounds, salvaged parts from old hard drives click and cut. Over several years Moritz Simon Geist committed to build, tweak, test and play all of his DIY robotic instruments.

Geist’s ‘Sonic Robots’ push the boundaries of the imaginable and invent a new plurality in music creation. In electronic music, many imagine humans playing machines. Few imagined these music machines being actual robots. In 2012, Geist ventured into this exploration with the invention of his well-known oversized 808 robot. The MR-808 robot is an iconic drum machine gone physical, no longer dwelling in the confines of circuitry alone. In the form of a 4 by 2 meter music box, filled with mechanical parts which play the instruments live, a new idea in electro and human-machine interaction was born. Now, he goes even further to pioneer the unknown and futuristic sound world of ‘Robotic Electronic Music’.

In 2018, Geist publishes his first record. It is the world’s first techno record played entirely by self-made futuristic robots. The 4-track EP will be out 12. Oct 2018, followed by the full-length album out 16. Nov. 2018. The Record will be released on Geists label Sonic Robots Records via Kompakt.

BMW Welt Portrait XO

Portrait XO is an interdisciplinary artist currently residing in Berlin. She recently won the Eurovision AI Song Contest Jury Vote in collaboration with Dadabots, and completed her artist residency at Factory Berlin x Sonar+D. Inspired by emerging technology, she researches computational creativity, human-machine collaboration, and explores new formats & applications for forward-thinking art and music. Her latest work focuses on hybrid approaches to co-creating with AI. Born in LA and raised in London, she pushes to evolve traditional and non-traditional approaches to music making and immersive installations.