Artificial intelligence for fingerings and bowings

A lot of the previous replies refer to the different opinions that conductors, instrumentalists and singers don’t share. This means, if there are too many partially unpredictable rules to be taken into account, that it would decrease the efficiency. Like nobody would agree to anybody’s preferences. As if there were too many opinions to be taken into account.

And this is the point of artificial intelligence.

The other way round would be like describing someones face to a computer by defining rules by hand by writing them down, which is time-consuming. What an AI does, is defining the rules itself.

The real challenge is having high quality sheet music digitized and revised by human beings. The easiest part is the technical realization.

There already are enough tendencies that suggest that this kind of software will exist:

  • Google released TensorFlow a popular open-source library which accelerated and simplified AI for developers by years with less lines to code, compared to 20 years ago.
  • scanning applications are getting better
  • MusicXML supports fingering, which means we have a widely accepted data structure to store this information.
  • is an evolving platform founded in collaboration with IMSLP and Musescore for people to share digitized sheet music which gets supervised by people.

I think that would be an absolute fools errand. Every orchestra has their preferred markings and they archive photocopies so they can remark their rented scores with their preferred interpretation. It’s not even worth the effort.

1 Like

Indeed, and as with many other bits, hopefully this will be supported in the future.

This is the point of artificial intelligence. It doesn’t matter how much context there is to consider.

Whew, that’s a relief to know… I was worried there for a minute.

1 Like

Now that seven of you are sharing your feedback, I would appreciate if you could also share your thoughts on my previous feature request. As you all know the Steinberg server was set to read-only shortly after I posted it so that only Daniel Spreadbury got the time to respond. Explosion Presets I hope to see you there.

It is not a question of ‘agreement’. In any orchestra you will find a variety of fingerings being used within each string section.

Fingerings are (mostly) the personal preferences of each player - depending on their physique. Less frequently a conductor may require a particular string to be used, but that still leaves a lot of flexibility for each individual player.

Bowings are different. They are mandated/negotiated for two reasons: 1) Musical effect, 2) Visual effect. Bowing is one of the biggest weapons in the conductor’s armoury to create a ‘personal’ interpretation. I doubt they would welcome AI removing that element of their artistry!!


Daniel said all that was needed.

Like self-driving cars, most of the important context is simply not available to the AI computers. Some of it would be available, such as tempo and stylistic markings. Some would be available if the algorithm were able to look at the entire score and deduce how the fiddles should be playing a particular passage. But some is historical, knowing the history of this particular work, the tendencies of this particular composer, is peculiarities of the era.

I doubt it would ever be anything close to what an expert would determine. But certainly some simple decisions could be possible without all that context.

@ cparmerlee What you just said does not contradict with what I explained above: Artificial intelligence for fingerings and bowings - #8 by AaronVin

The printed bowings were either Copland’s or those of an editor as they were done by the copyist. It’s interesting that some of these are written over in pencil indicating the opposite bowing.

No, as long as the objective is to at least get something sensible quickly. As Romanos suggested, some people take these markings very personally, but I am in favor of something that quickly gets one into the ballpark.
For awhile, Finale supported a plug-in that used Band-in-a-box technology to do a surprisingly good job of voicing harmonies. I don’t think I ever used the plug-in’s voicings 100%, but it was great for creating a first draft of an arrangement quickly. I was very sad to see Finale drop that plug-in. I believe things like that are great opportunities for making the programs more useful and productive.

That’s not uncommon.

I don’t think this is part of Dorico’s core mission, nor should it be. Why would they go to the expense of retaining ‘experts’ to curate a potentially enormous collection of material?

What are you expecting the use to be? Pattern x is most often bowed ‘like this’? So what!

If you want to see the wide variety of bowings adopted by modern orchestras, just google videos of Berlioz’ March to the Scaffold!

Elgar, for one, used to write out particular passages many times with different bowings and play them through with his friend WH Reid until he found ‘the right’ articulation for his intent. But, hey, he was a violinist and understood what was possible.

Lastly, fashions change. Just look at the fingering and phrasing Tertis uses in his (authorised) arrangement of the Elgar Cello Concerto and compare it with what a modern Violist would do! Sorry, but we just don’t accept all that slipping and sliding around in modern performance practice.

Seems to me your AI engine would be severely compromised by ‘historical’ practices.

Exactly! I want the bowings in my music to reflect my style not some machine interpretation of average historical practices. It’s a formula for mediocrity.

1 Like

Here are my views on these two things:

  1. No fingerings in music for professionals. String indications and use of harmonics etc are obviously fine. Pedagogical editions and Urtext editions will for different reasons not be suitable for AI involvement.

  2. Bowings.
    I will bow the same piece differently depending on things like: the predilections of the conductor; the performance speed; the acoustic properties of the venue; the number of players in the section; how capable the players are; and to be honest, my musical priorities, which evolve from year to year.

People who bow music regularly are used to overriding existing bowings and we will continue to do so if AI bowings start being supplied.

I don’t think that such a project will bear useful fruit (ie be an improvement on the current situation). But I will watch with interest to see if I’m proved wrong, though!


1 Like

Thank you!

Nobody would use such an Algorithm to discover historical practices. That’s why human supervision is required.

So do I with my Cello and my Violin parts.

Yes, with automatic bowings all instruments could immediately get synchronized and ajusted to taste.

@JHughes By the way are you related to Anthony Hughes?

We all have to agree that such an algorithm can be same as good as a human being other than ourselves. Which means, we all do adjust someone else’s settings to our own tastes and we all can change our minds frequently.

What is the point of having AI add bowing between the source and the player, when the player will bow based on circumstances that cannot be known by the AI?