Music of the Sails turns Sydney Opera House into an audiovisual performance lasting 744 hours

Collaborating with the University of New South Wales and Uncanny Valley, the Opera House is using data from the building to create a generative soundscape and visual artwork.

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Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

In partnership with Sydney Opera House.

For its 50th birthday, the Sydney Opera House has become its own musical instrument in Music of the Sails. With a combination of machine learning and human creativity, the Opera House is making a generative soundscape lasting 744 hours, which it says “will dynamically recompose the everyday data flow” of the building.

The music is available as a free, ongoing live stream on the Sydney Opera House website, and features continuously evolving music and visual art, running until October 31.

The artwork takes real-time environmental data (such as cold flow, hot flow, CO2 and temperature levels) and uses a string of artificial intelligence processes to convert field recordings from the House, including the sounds of the Concert Hall’s grand organ, into a month-long generative composition.

Sydney opera house music of the sails

The Opera House says that Music of the Sails “augments the sonic secrets of the building in a way that we’ve never heard before.”

Rather than being a collage of random notes and sounds, you’ll hear that the generative composition will often follow a rhythm, key and structure – you’ll even hear an outro in many instances.

To create the unique soundscape, the Opera House teamed up with the University of New South Wales’ Interactive Media Lab and with AI Song Contest winners Uncanny Valley.

Sydney opera house music of the sails

Dr Oliver Bown (UNSW) says: “In the kind of generative music we’re doing, the music is unfolding but nobody is performing it, and a longstanding idea has been this one of non-human organisms or systems or ecosystems as the performers, which we can render as music through technology. The result is something really rich and multifaceted.”

To watch the stream and learn more about the project, head to Sydney Opera House.


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