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Could an algorithm ever write music to rival Bach? The audience decides in this performance lecture with Professor Marcus du Sautoy FRS, harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani and composer Robert Thomas.

Esfahani and du Sautoy guide us through the almost mathematical structures of Bach’s works, positing him as a musical coder – someone that applied rules to musical material to grow something complex and beautiful. Bach’s works are then fed through an algorithm, which uses the data in Bach’s writing to ‘compose’ a piece of its own. The audience is then asked to spot the piece made by the machine, not the human mind. Will you be able to tell the difference?

With illusory visuals by Ben Kreukniet (who also presents an installation throughout March), and works by other composers that use algorithmic processes to create music, the evening opens with an interview between du Sautoy and Douglas Hofstadter, whose 1979 book Gödel, Escher, Bach inspired this event series.

Attending this event

This event is part of the Strange Loops triptych as part of the Royal Society's year-long partnership with the Barbican's Life Rewired season.

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