Bamboo, AI, and ProTools

Good morning. This post might be a little longer and you might want to make yourself a bowl of tea or a cup of coffee. I’ll wait.

Let’s go in alphabetical order. AI first. I heard that WordPress has made a deal, or may be in the process of making a deal, to allow one or more AI companies to scrape all of the blogs and websites that use the WP platform at I don’t know whether this is true or not but think it is quite likely, because money.

Much of my website runs on WordPress, but it’s and not The former is open source software, the latter a for profit hosted platform using that software. That means whatever WP decides to do does not affect this site. However, since this here is an open and public blog it means that there is no barrier to stop AI from scraping it. No laws exist to stop AI from ingesting this blog that has entries going back 30 years. 

I came up four possibilities:

  1. do nothing and let AI be trained
  2. archive the free diary (/latest), lock it up behind a password, and keep it to myself
  3. archive the free diary and make it only available to Backstage members
  4. archive the free diary and password protect it with something only a fan would know – example: what was the name of the studio the album Opium was recorded in

I sent these thoughts to Canton and asked “maybe there are more options that I can’t see?” 
Canton and I have been working on this website for about 30 years, having started with Pandoras Box in 1995. He often dispenses valuable wisdom, as he did in his reply (I asked permission to quote from his email):

All depends on what your mission is! If your mission is to just not have anything to do with AI, then I’d do #1. Just ignore it. Don’t use it, and don’t be fussed that your public posts will be scraped by yet another system. (All your public stuff is already scraped multiple times per week by various services and systems.) The cat is out of the bag. The horse has left the barn. The robot has rolled off the assembly line.

If your mission is to bodily throw yourself on the gears of this machine and put energy into defeating AI then you might have to do something more active than erect barriers, like try to poison the AIs. Leverage the fact that your public website has a high search engine ranking and decades of content about your music. Rewrite every of your public posts so that flamenco appears to be a kind of custard similar to flan. Get a few other prominent guitarists to do the same and maybe Chat GPT version 4.5 will slightly confuse flamenco and flan. When asked how to make a good custard maybe future GPT will answer that it all starts with a good rasgueado…

Speaking more as your friend and less as your web hosting provider, what I really recommend is making peace with AI so that it doesn’t poison your own brain space. There’s so much superficial noise and clamor around AI I find it hard to keep a balanced view on (1) what is useful and amazing about AI, and (2) what is truly destructive and diminishing about AI, where we should apply the brakes.

Do you know or know of Josh Schrei, the young musician and Yoga practitioner who grew up in Santa Fe? More or less my age? He has this absolutely fantastic homemade podcast called “The Emerald” which I’ve been eating up. It’s a wide-ranging discourse on all sorts of topics through an animist mytho-poetic lens. Full of heart, nature, and wisdom: A really good balance for all the nerdy stuff I listen to.

Here’s his episode on AI, “So you want to be a sorcerer in the age of mythic powers…”

I think he does a good job to reframe AI in the context of millennia of human history, along with good precautions and insights.

That second paragraph is so very Canton. It’s one of the reasons why I enjoy his company so much. 

So, the toothpaste has been squeezed out of the tube and can’t be put back. That’s fine. I can control what I can and that’s the path forward. 

Here is what I have in mind. In terms of writing, this /latest blog will become more of an announcement blog. News of a tour, news of a review, a new album finished, and so on. Everything else will happen on Backstage. I understand that everyone (including me) is tired of subscriptions. (Ha, that’s why I call it a membership!) Like all of you I have to juggle subscriptions. My rule is super simple. Does something delight me? Does it make me smile? For that reason I subscribe to a search engine! I use because I enjoy not having to wade through the ads on Google and DuckDuckGo, I enjoy getting more relevant answers, more quickly. Much more quickly! I stopped using Evernote, which I had subscribed to since 2009, when they doubled their price. I switched to open source Joplin, which may not be quite as polished as Evernote but does nearly everything I need. Subscriptions have to be tended to every year. Some need to be pruned, others become more necessary. It’s an orchard of subscriptions! :-)

Before I move on to my second topic I am going to take a moment to make this announcement:
In April the digital distribution deal for HuHeartDrive is up for renewal. After Higher Octave 1990-1992, Sony/Epic Records 1992-2001, SSRI 2001-2018, HHD is my fourth label and the only one where I have 100% control over the distribution. HHD released Fete in 2019, two versions of vision 2020, Bare Wood 2, several Dance 4 Me remix singles, guitar + pipe (from the video I made for the Dallas Museum of Art) and all of this music is currently available from all digital distributors and streaming platforms. I intend to end the distribution deal in April, which means  that while the music will continue to be available from Bandcamp it will disappear from Spotify and Apple Music and all other such platforms. This move could very well mean that I will earn less money. I think that a lot of people are in the habit of listening to playlists–either their own or their stream provider’s–and they may not even notice that my new music is no longer part of that rotation. This is fine. What I am doing is what I want to do. I feel it in my bones.

My second topic is Bamboo, the album I am currently working on. I am have five pieces in different stages. I enjoyed creating shorter pieces for Rain Poems, which Culture Court called Audio Haikus in this piece that imagines a long conversation about the subject:

Short tracks. Beautiful, atmospheric pieces that celebrate the sound of water like audio haiku verses.

I am planning on carrying on like that for this new Bamboo project: mostly shorter pieces. But, looking ahead, I’d like to do an album of longer pieces next, after Bamboo. I love how the guitars shift on African Rain because I play around with shifting accents. That I would like to dive deeper into. Cool rhythms that shift subtly, arpeggios and melodies that change shape through changing accents… like flowing water or a murmuration of starlings. 

Yesterday I read Gioia’s new post regarding the dopamine culture. (Ted Gioia is another subscription that I am happy to pay for.) Last month he started with The State of the Culture, 2024, which was followed by 13 Observations on Ritual and the latest post is How to Break Free from Dopamine Culture. These three articles are full of gold and I think most of them can be accessed by non-subscribers.

Here is a quote from the newest of the three posts:

Even before this scroll-and-swipe mania, I was telling people they should listen to longer music tracks—at least ten minutes in duration.

I originally got this idea from researching the practices of shamans around the world. I noticed that it typically took 10-15 minutes of drumming or singing before the shaman entered an altered mindstate. I later gathered scientific evidence from other fields (neuroscience, biology, etc.) that also suggested a ten minute threshold.

That fits nicely with my intention of creating longer pieces. I imagine pieces that are about 9-11 minutes each but will see how it feels and what the muses command.

Gioia mentioned the 42 minute orchestral composition Become Ocean, by John Luther Adams, in his piece: link to Wikipedia entry about the music, link to a recording on Apple Music. I would love to hear that performed live someday. 

Pro Tools is the last topic. I saw this post by Tim Prebble, who recorded all of the rain sounds on Rain Poems. He wrote:

AvidLink, which I have zero use for, is using 96.6% of my Macs CPU!
I Force Quit it and my Mac becomes responsive again…
My next thought: can I delete AvidLink? What use is it?

“Avid Link is a free app for anyone looking to find, connect, and collaborate with other creatives, promote your work, stream video, purchase and manage products—all in one interface”

No thanks.
But rather than delete it, for now I’ll follow this advice of how to stop it auto-launching Stop Avid Link from starting at boot 

There you have it, some good advice for any of you using Pro Tools.

That’s it, end of post. I hope you will enjoy a very fine day.  

Expert Witness

SORKIN Can I ask you an interesting IP issue…one of the things about training on data is the idea that these things are not being trained on peoples copyrighted information historically, that’s been the concept.

MUSK That’s a huge lie.

SORKIN Say that again?

MUSK These AIs are all trained on copyrighted data, obviously.

SORKIN So you think it’s a lie when OpenAI says…none of these guys say they are training on copyrighted data?

MUSK That’s a lie.

SORKIN A straight up lie.

MUSK A straight up lie. 100%. Obviously it’s been trained on copyrighted data.

Insight into AI Training from an Expert – Music Technology Policy



AVID + Pro Tools

This month AVID, makers of the most ubiquitous studio recording software, Pro Tools, was sold to a Private Equity firm. I found this article about Private Equity very illuminating. 

What can we expect? I think support will be slashed, subscription rates will be hiked, development will be cut…

What can you do?

Plan A:
We don’t update a hammer, or a guitar annually, but we have become used to (we were trained to?) updating our hardware and software regularly. While I have generally done that with my phone, I never did that with my recording computer and software. Everything until 2021, and including Bare Wood 2, was recorded on a Macintosh computer dating from 2003. The computer was running Pro Tools version 6.9.1, which was released in the fall of 2005. Very stable. So, I suggest using the perpetual version of the Pro Tools software and freezing your system. I use the perpetual version of PT (software version, running on my two year old MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro chip. That version of PT is finally running on Apple Silicon without Rosetta. All of my plugins are running natively as well. Mac OS 13.5.1 seems very stable. So this is where the laptop and the software will remain. Get out of the crazy updating cycle. A digital audio workstation is a tool, not something that needs to be changed constantly. 

Plan B:
I also hear good things about Studio One.

The Number of Songs

The number of songs in the world doubled yesterday. Did you even notice?

An artificial intelligence company in Delaware boasted, in a press release, that it had created 100 million new songs. That’s roughly equivalent to the entire catalog of music available on Spotify.

It took thousands of years of human creativity to make the first 100 million songs. But an AI bot matched that effort in a flash.

The Number of Songs in the World Doubled Yesterday

And the company that delivered this feat is led by a someone who studied Jazz Bass in college… A bass player. This is odd, I always liked bass players. They seem reasonable, grounded, solid. They don’t seem like somebody proud of letting machines make 100 million songs.

Read the linked article and let me know what you think.

Dead Musicians

The same thing will happen with AI tracks by dead musicians. It seems like a stunt today, but it can quickly metastasize into a whole industry.

That’s likely, because the greed level among corporate and individual owners of the estates of dead musicians is off the charts. I’ve met some greedy musicians over the years, but the great ones always cared more about artistry. The heirs often have very different priorities, and they will have superstars singing ringtones and radio jingles if the money is right.

So AI will lead to a Beatles reunion. Hendrix will jam again. Miles will make another album with the Kind of Blue band. Sonny will croon with Cher once more, and Simon will sing with Garfunkel. 

Twelve Brutal Truths about AI Music – by Ted Gioia


This is a warning. Please read carefully.

By now you’ve probably seen a Predictor; millions of them have been sold by the time you’re reading this. For those who haven’t seen one, it’s a small device, like a remote for opening your car door. Its only features are a button and a big green LED. The light flashes if you press the button. Specifically, the light flashes one second before you press the button.

What’s expected of us | Nature

Short story by Ted Chiang, published by in 2005, nearly twenty years ago. 

Thinking about free will is like thinking about afterlife or whether we have a soul. Could be an interesting debate but how useful is it? 

I imagine, if given enough information, AI could figure out my answer to most questions, most of the time. It would seem like magic.

I like the name Chiang would prefer to use instead of AI, which he terms a poor choice of words from the 1950’s: Applied Statistics. John Gruber suggested, and then retracted, adding the term System, for a better acronym.