For the first time in Barcelona, Sónar, the UPC and betevé organise the AI and Music Festival

Sónar, the UPC and betevé will host the AI and Music Festival on site in Barcelona and online on 27 and 28 October. Within the framework of the S+T+ARTS programme of the European Commission, the festival will focus on the applications and challenges of artificial intelligence in creating music. Since the end of April, the UPC is leading an applied research laboratory to explore this relationship.

Jun 10, 2021

In the months leading up to the AI and Music Festival, which will take place mainly in person but will also include several online activities, Sónar and the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · BarcelonaTech (UPC) will form a thinking lab, led by the University, to promote a dialogue between art, science and technology around artificial intelligence (AI). The lab will be open to discussion and experimentation. It aims to bring together musicians, composers, cultural historians, technologists, scientists and AI developers from around the world to share, explore and exhibit the role of AI in musical creativity and, in short, in the interaction between people and machines.

The purpose of the thinking lab is to identify and conceptualise the main challenges for the artistic, social and scientific approach of the festival. Several activities open to the public are taking place since late April. Conclusions and new challenges arising from the lab will inspire the content of the AI and Music Festival, which will become a test bed for experimenting with AI in music.

On 27 and 28 October, the AI and Music Festival will offer a programme of live music and also conferences, workshops, discussions, hackathons, spaces of co-creation, performances and keynotes focused on the relationship between human creativity and technological advances. Activities will be hosted mainly on site, with COVID-19 safety measures in place, and will be broadcast by betevé, but other events will take place exclusively online and will be specifically designed for digital audiences.

The full programme will be announced soon and will be held in parallel with the SónarCCCB festival, which will also take place that week, on 29 and 30 October, at the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB).

The European Commission selected the consortium formed by Sónar, the UPC and betevé to organise the AI and Music Festival within the framework of the S+T+ARTS (Science, Technology & the Arts) initiative, launched under the Horizon 2020 R&D programme, to foster alliances between science, technology and the arts that effectively implement a European approach to technological innovation centred on human needs and values.

The UPC has longstanding experience in AI training and research. It has a knowledge and technology ecosystem that is composed of several research centres and groups participating in major national and international scientific and technological projects related to AI. Among them the Intelligent Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (IDEAI) research centre, which is in charge of the scientific part of the AI and Music Festival. It is the largest AI centre in Catalonia, with almost 60 permanent researchers and about 150 doctoral students. The IDEAI and the Image Processing and Multimedia Technology Centre (CITM), which has a long history in digital creativity, are leading the AI and Music Festival on behalf of the University.

The project is also part of the UPCArts initiative to foster the relationship between art and culture and science and technology.

The UPC is a benchmark in AI teaching in Spain. By launching the first bachelor’s degree in Artificial Intelligence at a public Catalan university in the coming academic year, the UPC has become the first Spanish university to provide full official training in AI (bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and doctoral programme), since it already offers other degrees in this area.


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