Organic Intelligence Workshop

A workshop with intelligent instruments on the organ in Hallgrimskirkja
Thu Jan 19 2023

Deadline for applications: Noon, 2nd of February
Workshop: 13th-23rd of February 2023
Concert: 24th of February, Hallgrímskirkja at 18:00

A collaboration between the Intelligent Instruments Lab, Áki Ásgeirsson and Hallgrímskirkja

The Intelligent Instruments Lab at the Iceland University of the Arts invites interested musicians to participate in a workshop where we will explore the use of creative AI technologies to play the organ at Hallgrimskirkja.

A photo of the IIL team with Hallgrimskirkja in the background.

The view of Hallgrimskirkja from our lab.

We seek participants of diverse musical and cultural backgrounds, everyone is welcome, but the workshop size will be eight participants plus workshop leaders. We hope to have people in the workshop who want to use the organ in novel and unexpected ways, to make new sounds, tell new stories, develop new interfaces, have fun and redefine what organ music is about. Áki Ásgeirsson will be the workshop leader together with members of the lab.

The workshop will introduce creative AI technologies developed at the lab and people can use our systems such as the Notochord, Agential Scores, Scramble and more to control the organ. These involve AI and ALife, but participants can come up with their own systems too. We will also introduce our Organolib (technical library of sensors and actuators) which can be used to create novel interfaces. No technical skills are required for this workshop. We are hoping for a diverse group of people from all walks of music!

In the workshop we will learn about how the organ works, both for human players and how the organ’s MIDI connection can extend human capabilities, both in terms of performance and composition by using alternative intelligence.

In the workshop we will explore algorithmic music practices in the past, from ancient times to the current day, and move over to contemporary use of machine learning. We will also look at earlier works written for the organ in MIDI form as examples of how it is used.

The workshop will culminate with a concert at 18.00 on the Friday in Hallgrimskirkja where music from the workshop will be performed.

Application procedure:

The workshop is free and we are running it in the afternoon in order to be able to include people who might be busy during the day. Applicants must send in a short application using this form HERE before noon on 2nd of February (we are selecting participants that day). We will aim to invite a diverse group of 8 people for the workshop. Applicants will receive notifications on the 3rd of February.

Workshop Schedule:

Monday 13 Feb - Workshop in Hallgrímskirkja, 17.00-19.00, introduction
Wednesday 15 Feb - Workshop in ii lab, 17.00-19.00, iiL tools / MIDI tools
Friday 17 Feb - Open lab 15.00 - Aki introduces earlier organ pieces
Monday, 20 Feb - Workshop in Hallgrímskirkja, 17.00-19.00
Tuesday, 21 Feb - Workshop in the lab, 17.00-19.00
Wednesday, 22 Feb - Workshop in Hallgrímskirkja, 17.00-19.00
Thursday, 23 Feb - Workshop in Hallgrímskirkja, 17.00-19.00
Friday, 24 Feb - Concert in Hallgrímskirkja, 18.00-19.00

The Klais Organ

A picture of the Klais Organ at Hallgrimskirkja

The Klais Organ at Hallgrimskirkja

The Hallgrímskirkja Klais organ has 4 keyboards and a pedalboard, 72 voices and 5275 pipes that can all be controlled by a computer via MIDI. The organ is 15 metres high, weighs about 25 tons, and the largest pipes are about 10 metres high.

Intelligent Instruments Tech

In the workshop participants will be able to use some of the technologies developed in the lab and also make their own. We will support people in their creative ideas. Some of the technologies we might use are here below, but more info can be found on the lab’s research page.

The Organolib

Many different types of instruments and instrumental parts, both acoustic and electronic, placed on a yellow surface.

We'll be bringing a tiny version of the Organolib

The Organolib is a library of technical elements that we’re currently designing, a tool that helps us understand the role of technology in creative work. It is an experimental system for the assemblage of musical protypes and demos. We use this to quickly generate and explore ideas together with artists and researchers.


Tölvera project.

Artificial life made with Tölvera

Tölvera is a system that explores the possibilities of entangling the real-time parameters of musical instruments with artificial life (ALife) and other types of simulations. We have used it for our agential scores project. Here users can play with the Tölvera ALife library developed at the lab and explore the use of artificial life in musical composition and performance.


A technical diagram with math symbols and lines.

The Notochord Diagram

The Notochord is a machine learning system for MIDI data which processes each event very quickly, making it a software backbone for building intelligent instruments for realtime performance. It is made for MIDI data: once trained on a corpus of MIDI files, it can generate music, accompaniment, harmonisation, AI improvisation, or weirder forms of MIDI mangling.


Technical audio interface.

Scramble Interface

Scramble is a hands-on MIDI tool for aided composition and performance. It analyses MIDI files and generates musical patterns out of them. It also incorporates the real time input from instruments for real-time interaction. Scramble combines melodic and rhythmic models from any number of songs in order to produce unexpected musical outcomes.


An electronic instruments with many buttons.

The Linnstrument

Linnstrument is a music performance controller with 3D note expression designed by Roger Linn. The grid based MIDI controller, playable with one or two hands, is velocity sensitive, but also senses three dimensions per finger, polyphonically