Örjan Sandred

Headshot of Örjan Sandred, 2022 winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship in music

Swedish-Canadian composer creates new music using live electronics controlled by AI

Örjan Sandred, professor of composition at the University of Manitoba, has won a 2022 Guggenheim Fellowship in support of a project in live electronics controlled by artificial intelligence. The Swedish-Canadian composer is collaborating with the Stenhammar String Quartet on the composition.

Many of Dr. Sandred’s works reflect his search for new methods of composition, including Rule-based Computer Assisted Composition techniques, where the computer acts as the composer’s assistant. His pieces involve live electronics and sometimes live video processing. These methods use microphones and video cameras to create a counterpoint between visual and aural stimuli.

He says artificial intelligence has led him to investigate further how musical parameters such as pulse, rhythm, pitch and timbre interact to create powerful musical expressions. “Music ultimately takes place in our brain, that’s why I believe music is a great tool to deepen our understanding of the human brain. Music structures reflect how the brain works.”

Through a commission from the Manitoba Arts Council for pianist Megumi Masaki, Dr. Sandred just completed a pre-study for his Guggenheim project, where he explores how a computer can learn the style of a piano performance by using Self-Organizing-Maps, and then base its musical response on those findings.

Dr. Sandred’s music is available on the CDs Sonic Trails (2020) and Cracks and Corrosion (2009). The second edition of his book, The Musical Fundamentals of Computer Assisted Composition, is now available.

Learn more about the Guggenheim Fellowship

Universities Canada