02023-09-27 | Music | 2 comments

Saw this on Ted Gioia’s latest newsletter. The lines are very very clear now.

Please read the comments 👇🏻. Steve makes a very good case.


  1. Steve

    The thing is: music requires creativity. Some songwriters/composers are more creative than others are. None of us (so far) have been as clever or innovative as J.S. Bach, but it doesn’t matter.

    Varese or Nancarrow may be dissonant or difficult to listen to, but they are both very creative composers. I think it is important that we understand that creativity isn’t just producing a novel work. I can pick up a Shakuhachi (an instrument I do not play/possess technical skill on) and create a novel melody line, but I don’t think that’s necessarily creative in any sense of the word “creative.”

    It’s also true that creativity is inextricably linked to an era- counterpoint in the Baroque era, and one’s ability to write in that style, by the time of Mozart or Beethoven was seen as “old-fashioned” or deprecated and therefore wasn’t viewed as creative by then.

    Creativity is something that is cultural and social. For example, I absolutely LOVE Karnāṭaka saṅgītam from south India, but someone else may think it sounds like “noise” and therefore not have any appreciation for the skill level of the improvisation(s) taking place within a given raga and so on. Such a person would find this music completely non-creative.

    Creativity as realized BY HUMANS is socially and temporally contextualized- No matter how sophisticated AI becomes, no matter how large the training datasets grow, no matter which methodologies for processing are employed, no AI will ever be able to overcome these barriers.

    To assert otherwise is just to misunderstand human creativity and the aim of music. AI will never “get there” in any aspect of art, but particularly in music.

    • Steve

      One other thing I meant to mention and failed to do so:

      The Baroque Violinst John Holloway has indicated that he always works from Bach’s original facsimile scores rather than a “modern” transcription. The reason for this is because according to “the rules” of harmony and counterpoint in use at the time, certain of Bach’s note choices, chord voicings, or rhythmic decisions would be considered “mistakes” but are in actuality very purposeful.

      So … another aspect of creativity is the unexpected use of these elements irrespective of what “the rules” say while still making the piece cohere as a composition.

      AI will have no ability to execute such a thing for the same reasons mentioned in the previous posting.


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