Public defense: Making Music with Artificial Intelligence

Master Çağrı Erdem at the Department of Musicology will defend his dissertation Controlling or Being Controlled? Exploring Embodiment, Agency and Artificial Intelligence in Interactive Music Performance for the degree of philosophiae doctor (PhD).

Doctoral candidate Çağrı Erdem, wall with text "det humanistiske fakultet"

Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing the world. We interact with AI continuously in daily life, when browsing the web, playing a TV show, or buying a metro ticket. But how can we make music with AI? In his dissertation, Çağrı Erdem has developed new musical instruments using state-of-the-art AI technologies.

The human body is essential to music experiences. You can easily imagine the sound when you see a body movement like clapping hands or hitting guitar strings. However, most AI technologies focus on sound, text, or vision. Erdem explores how to include “embodied perspectives” in musical AI development and shows that machines can learn most actions on musical instruments through basic motion shapes. For example, in an “air guitar” study with thirty-six guitar players, Erdem showed that AI could predict
sound features based on recorded muscle movements. But human motion is not merely about physical signals. We also communicate meanings through gestures. Moreover, it is not only about how sophisticated the technology is but also to what extent it contributes to creative processes. Results from the laboratory experiments provide the statistical basis for Erdem’s exploration into new concepts for musical expression. The aim is to provide a conceptual shift from using the machine as a tool to using it as an actor in musical interaction. Ultimately, such music technology research is part of shaping the future of music, but also developing AI more generally.

Çağrı Erdem  successfully defended his dissertation on May 10, 2022.

Trial lecture

Designated topic: "Embodied cognition as an approach for understanding musical communication and sense-making"

Watch the live stream


Evaluation committee

Associate Professor Gascia Ouzonian, Oxford University (first opponent)

Professor Palle Dahlstedt, Chalmers University of Technology (second opponent)

Associate Professor Jonna Vuoskoski, University of Oslo (committee administrator)

Chair of the defence

Head of Department Zafer Özgen


Professor Alexander Refsum Jensenius, University of Oslo

Professor Rolf Inge Godøy, University of Oslo

Associate Professor Kyrre Glette, University of Oslo

Published Apr. 25, 2022 3:31 PM - Last modified July 19, 2022 11:20 AM