Red Consultancy drives interest in Schubert's formerly Unfinished Symphony

08 March 2019 Consultancy.uk

Strategic communications firm Red Consultancy collaborated with Huawei to demonstrate the potential of artificial intelligence. Huawei engaged an AI programme on one of its smartphones to help complete Schubert’s famous Unfinished Symphony, almost 200 years after the maestro commenced its composition.

Franz Schubert's Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D 759, commonly known as the Unfinished Symphony, is a musical composition that Schubert started in 1822. While the Austrian composer lived another six years, he left the piece with only two movements. The reason he left it unfinished – despite having made sketches some way into a third movement – continues to be discussed and written about, and has two centuries of classical music enthusiasts wondering what might have been.

Despite numerous attempts, it remains one of the most intriguing pieces of unfinished symphonic music of all time. Now, the world may finally have an answer to the conundrum of just how it might have ended, however, thanks to work from technology firm Huawei. The Chinese multinational ‘completed’ the piece, some 197 years after Schubert last set it aside, with the assistance of artificial intelligence (AI) running on one of the company’s smartphones.

By running an AI model from the Huawei Mate 20 Pro smartphone – which was designed specifically with AI-based tasks in mind – Huawei was able to analyse the timbre, pitch and meter of the existing first and second movements of the symphony, before generating the melody for the final, missing third and fourth movements. At this point, Emmy award-winning composer Lucas Cantor was enlisted to arrange an orchestral score from the melody that stayed true to the style of Schubert’s original structure. 

Walter Ji, President CBG, Huawei Western Europe, explained, “At Huawei, we are always searching for ways in which technology can make the world a better place. So, we taught our Mate 20 Pro smartphone to analyse an unfinished, nearly 200 year old piece of music and to finish it in the style of the original composer. We used the power of AI, to extend the boundaries of what is humanly possible and see the positive role technology might have on modern culture. If our smartphone is intelligent enough to do this, what else could be possible?”

The final, Huawei-completed piece was brought to life with a live performance at the iconic Cadogan Hall in London on the 4th February. The 67-piece English Session Orchestra performed to an audience of over 500 guests, showcasing for the first time this unique ending to Schubert’s Symphony No. 8, illustrating the potential of human talent augmented with AI in the process. On the back of this, Red Consultancy worked with Huawei on a viral marketing campaign to deliver the final product to millions of listeners across the globe.

Red Consultancy is a professional services firm which offers advisory services to clients looking for PR, digital and content expertise via its 140 staff in its Soho offices. The firm develops and manages campaigns, runs major press offices, and steers brands and businesses through engagement with media, consumers, customers, stakeholders and internal audiences both domestically and internationally. According to Red Consulting, its Huawei campaign has already resulted in over 11 million views of the Unfinished Symphony video content, from more than 1,500 pieces of international media coverage, and an estimated reach of nearly 900 million.

Commenting on the story, Maureen Conlon, Huawei Lead Director at Red Consultancy said, “Working with an ambitious brand like Huawei challenges us to consistently think outside the box and come up with truly unique and creative campaigns. For Unfinished Symphony, we worked with the client from initial ideation all the way through to activation and the Huawei team at Red Consultancy could not be more thrilled with the result.”

Related: Red Consultancy handed new role with Munchkin.


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