Analysing the playing styles of leading musicians



Islah Ali-MacLachlan, Senior Lecturer in Sound Engineering

Research aims

The research aims to create a computer algorithm capable of replicating subtle differences in the way musicians play their instruments. From this, the University will create a new system capable of analysing trends in musicians’ playing styles.

Research methods

The research will begin by analysing stylistic differences between traditional Irish flute players to see how finger movements, breathing patterns and strength of breaths influence their style. Using hundreds of pieces of music set produced over five decades, each individual sound and movement is analysed and entered into the system to replicate over 15,000 individual notes and sounds. The system, which analyses how long notes are played for and the deviations in their sound, is already able to replicate notes to an 86 per cent accuracy level. Hundreds of music pieces will continue to be analysed by the researchers, fine-tuning the system and rediscovering the playing styles of some of music’s greatest performers.


The system will enable music producers of the future to draw on the style and expertise of the world’s greatest musicians, through cutting-edge artificial intelligence algorithms to predict what a real musician would do with a different melody. It could, for example, demonstrate how classical musicians would have played contemporary pieces of music, and even highlight how individual musicians may have played the same music differently in different periods.