Music Making + Listening

02023-04-01 | Computer, Music | 4 comments

Today I saw the following quote and the comment by Alex Ross, the excellent music critic of The New Yorker.

Whenever people start talking about the wonderful and terrifying possibilities of AI, I think of the above comment from the composer Ben Phelps, in 2017. To paraphrase for the current moment: if AI is capable of writing journalism, then surely AI is also capable of reading journalism. Let the chatbots write for one another, and leave us out of it.
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise: The final word on artificial intelligence

BTW in German there is a lovely verb for making music: musizieren. It always struck me as strange that English doesn’t have a word for that. We have to say that we play music or make music. We can write and paint and even photograph but we cannot music. At least this is not limited to English, as all of the latin languages use making music as well.


  1. Steve

    > Artificial Intelligence has the potential to soon write music for us

    But as has been aptly pointed out (Jaron Lanier) it isn’t really “intelligence” … it is imitative based upon some sort of objective function.

    The AI is just optimizing on an objective function we give it the training … which was based upon past art/text/whatever and it predicts the next note/word/whatever in an imitative way. But it doesn’t “understand” anything. It isn’t actually “making” anything in our sense of “making.” There is no “innovation” going on. Just objective function solving.

    The objective function is specific to the problem domain.

    So the AI iterates or analytically solves a function which minimises the error term of the objective function thereby providing a high probability that the next word/note/whatever is “correct” or rather is in-line with the training data.

    Now this is just my own opinion but this seems like a mug’s game. Why bother? What is art/music/poetry for? Some pretty good insight:

    “My music is the spiritual expression of what I am – my faith, my knowledge, my being … When you begin to see the possibilities of music, your desire to do something really good for people, to help humanity free itself from its hangups … I want to speak to their souls.”

    -John Coltrane

    • ottmar

      I agree with all of that.

      I posted the quote because I love the logical extension that if robots can make music, perhaps they should also be the ones listening to it.

      • Steve

        My personal hope is that current and future AI will be dedicated to solve climate change.

        (and … that’s even if entire AI farms need to have their objective functions directed toward the complete solution of this one problem domain … leave the art/music/poetry to the humans)

        • ottmar

          Yes, a thousand times that!!!


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