Melomics Music Composition

When considering art, one must at some point or another question it’s origin and what makes it so special.  Some people believe art comes from something beyond our comprehension; a higher power of some sort.  Others believe that art at its core is a very human thing.  No matter what you believe, Artificial Intelligence has the potential to disrupt your current philosophy and force you to reflect on what it all means.

In 2014, Melomics released 0music – an album composed by an artificial intelligence named Melomics109 without any human intervention whatsoever.  You can watch and listen to one of the songs from the album here.  Now, the music isn’t anything special; it’s no Mozart or Beatles.  However, it’s lack musical greatness doesn’t take away from the magnitude of the step taken.  As we’ve all learned from studying disruption innovation, most disruptive innovations start out unimpressive; that’s why most people don’t pay attention until it’s too late.  As a musician who has studied disruptive innovation, this scares me.  I’m scared of the potential that an AI can reach not just musically, but across every genre of art.  There are even instances where AIs are writing film scripts.  Again, they’re terrible, but that’s not the point.  The point is that it’s a step and a giant one.

There are multiple reasons why this scares me.  I’m scared of an obstacle that I think humanity will face and has faced repeatedly in history.  It’s the same obstacle we faced when we learned that the sun did not revolve around the earth.  When AI achieves a level of artistic creativity that leaves us in awe, I think we will all question how special humans really are.  As of right now, art is very much a reflection of our experiences, and often times an extension of who we are.  When we like a song, we feel connected to the artist – it’s all very grounded in relationships.  How will that change when something that isn’t human does the creating?  What is there to connect with?  I’m also scared because humans are very creative.  We love it! If we didn’t, then there wouldn’t constantly be new innovations, music, movies, etc.  What are we going to do when we don’t have to create anymore because we have machines doing it for us? How will we adapt?  Lastly, to refer back to the question from the beginning of this post: “Who do we owe this tree to?”  I think the evolution of AI will make answering this question even more complicated. 

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2 Responses to Melomics Music Composition

  1. Edward Vestergaard December 2, 2016 at 12:30 pm #

    The advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AI) through the years is nothing short of incredible. It’s grown from robotic arms completing simple tasks to diagnosing a patient’s illness or even providing real-time directions noting traffic, construction and weather conditions. Now I’m reading a post by John Ferry about AI’s ability to compose its own music. Initially I was skeptical of the claim, but read further into post and realized that there was truly zero human influence; this music is an AI original. Ferry notes the quality isn’t on par with “Mozart or [the] Beatles,” but nevertheless it’s impressive. Producing good music takes talent; one needs to consider many aspect that’ll allow the piece to flow smoothly with pleasant harmonies/melodies. Granted, I’m not musically inclined but I’ve listened to enough music to understand what constitutes good vs. bad. Truthfully, most people wouldn’t be impressed with Melomics109’s (AI in reference) work, but that’s not the point; Artificial Intelligence now has the capacity for creativity.

    If we take a moment to reflect, “Creativity” and “AI” don’t seem to go hand-in-hand. Perhaps we perceive AI as the stereotypical robot that’s devoid of emotion, only capable of appearing matter-of-fact and providing information. Why this is such a big deal is that art, in whatever form but particularly musically, is an expression of emotion. Art encompasses that whole spectrum of emotion- displaying happy, sad, confused, angered, etc. – via sculpture, painting, lyrics and even rhythms. It’s remarkable how humankind falsely believed they were the only ones capable of creative thinking, but that’s not true! Animals have to constantly think up creative solutions to adapt, thrive and survive. While some may contend that animals utilize their unique abilities unconsciously, we cannot dismiss the idea that animals, like humans, assess and analyze their environment, thereby thinking outside-the-box to benefit themselves. But if a non-living entity suddenly possess the power of creativity, “I think we will all question how special humans really are” (Ferry). I love this quote and the analysis thereafter; when AI produces something that equals or surpasses human work, are we now creatively inferior to AI? It’s a very interesting argument, but regardless if AI’s art “leaves us in awe,” humans will never be creatively inferior to AI; our emotion is genuine whereas AI’s is programmed. Personally, great art evokes an emotional connection with the listener or viewer; one’s able to feel an artist’s pain or joy or whatever emotion is being put across. AI will never be human since it’s “emotion” is disingenuous, therefore, we can never fully appreciate AI’s work because the emotional element is detached. Conclusively, Ferry voices a valid concern which asserts that perhaps someday, humans may be disinterested in creative thought because AI can create something better. Will we become less adventurous and lose our free spirit? Damnit I hope not, people are amazing and should NEVER stop innovating, NEVER snub their creative thought because without it, life would be pathetically boring…and people would inevitably become boring too.

  2. Jesse Klarfeld December 2, 2016 at 9:05 pm #

    As I started reading this blog post I shortly became intrigued with the author’s thesis which states, “No matter what you believe, Artificial Intelligence has the potential to disrupt your current philosophy and force you to reflect on what it all means.” This was an interesting sentence because it opened my eyes to the impact of AI in various areas of life. As the blog post continues, I began to be surprised at the AI influence in not only common entertainment in virtual reality, but also in the music industry. Although these uses are very unordinary and seem to be a bit far-fetched, many different uses for AI are being tested, but it is a matter of time before we humans realize the pros and cons of such powerful innovations.

    Now, the creating of music through artificial intelligence could be one of least effective uses of AI. The reason being is that the music created by this robot loses the inside emotions and metaphorical lyrics that are present in human- made music. Although the music created or film scripts that are created lack excellence, as Ferry the author states, “The point is that it’s a step and a giant one.” I agree with Ferry here as he is correct that this type of AI is outstanding and finding uses such as these gives better ideas for future advancements. These types of steps and ideas can and will lead to other inventions that will have a bigger impact and more rational one in the future.

    As I continue reading this blog post, I become more and more of a fan of this post. The first sentence of the third paragraph grabs my eyes as Ferry says, “I think we will all question how special humans really are.” This statement is important because it brings the reality that humans are not robots and have something more special than just AI. Ferry makes a good point when he says that the connection between a person and music is something that makes the song more respectful and awesome. Musical creations and film scripts created by robots or AI would definitely lack human feeling, emotion, and overall meaning.

    As Ferry says, “I’m also scared because humans are very creative.” This is a great statement because I too am scared for this use of AI. I do not see a benefit towards having music of films being made and thought of through these technologies because it ultimately lacks human interaction and meaning. Manmade creations are without a doubt better in various ways, however, the idea and attempts to implement AI into society as much as possible is well respected by not only me, but I’m sure many others. The thought of AI is undermined all the time and many do not realize how much of a deal it really is. When AI is taken into consideration in aspects such as music and film, it really does make answering the question about the effectiveness and disruptiveness of AI even more complicated.

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