Robert Laidlow

Published On


Page Range

pp. 355–378


  • English

Print Length

24 pages

18. Artificial Intelligence and the Symphony Orchestra

This chapter documents a process of practice-based research concerning the relationship between artificial intelligence and classical music. I argue that classical music (as an industry) is well placed o answer salient questions that the age of artificial intelligence demands we consider. The relationship is explored through three themes, which are:
1. The relationship between the future and the past
2. The idea of “authenticity”
3. The notion of music as an abstract artform that can or cannot be reduced to data alone
Using these thematic areas as a bedrock, the case study will discuss the three- movement work Silicon, written for the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. Drawing from my own practice and views the case study will explore how this new technology affects, and will affect, the way an orchestra interacts with a composer, and how orchestral music can be used to explore technology that has an increasingly profound effect on all aspects of our day-to-day lives. Alongside theoretical and aesthetic ties between classical music and artificial intelligence, practical methodologies for utilising artificial intelligence as part of the creative process will be explored. This includes the benefits and limitations of using artificial intelligence to create or develop musical material, long-term structures, or novel synthesized instruments, and also some compositional methodologies I have developed to magnify or mitigate the effect of artificial intelligence on a large-scale work.


Robert Laidlow


Robert Laidlow is a composer and researcher who focusses on the relationship between advanced technology and classical music. Between 2018 and 2022 he was the PRiSM (the RNCM Centre for Practice & Research in Science & Music) Researcher in AI-Assisted Composition in association with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra which resulted in works utilising artificial intelligence including Silicon (2022) and Three Entistatios (2019). His music in this field has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and was also televised on BBC Four as part of the Royal Institution's Christmas Lectures. He is a Career Development Fellow at Jesus College, Oxford.