gracejjohnson

Contributing writer for The Artifice.

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    Artificial Intelligence: The Future of Music?

    Ever since Schubert abandoned his 8th Symphony in 1822, six years before his death, after writing the first two movements, composers, musicologists, and general lovers of classical music, have wondered why the symphony was left unfinished – was Schubert ill? Was he distracted with other compositions? But mostly we have wondered about what the final two movements would have sounded like.

    In 2019, Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant, answered this conundrum by completing the famous "Unfinished" Symphony by feeding thousands of Schubert’s works into the software that would hopefully produce material in the style of Schubert – as he would have thought it himself. This process was guided by the film composer Lucas Cantor, but still the result was heavily criticised.

    AI has since been used in music to generate pop songs, many of which are indistinguishable from human-made hits we hear on the radio. Is the use of AI in musical composition just like any other technological innovation in that it aids the composer in their process, automating tedious tasks, and so on? Or are we facing a real fear of being stuck in a ‘loop’ of the same musical tastes, without the extra push of human creativity and invention, since AI runs on analysing pre-existing examples?

    The author could further discuss the differences and similarities between AI software recognising patterns, and how humans often compose from well-studied patterns also.

    • It is critical to consider: Even if you ultimately develop fresh, surprising things, everytime you strive to create something new, you always generate it from what you already know. Everything you perceive, comprehend, hold dear, or do always springs from information your brain has already gathered or processed. Your brain is continuously collecting the past for use in a variety of ways, such as putting the sounds you've stored in new settings. Therefore, it shouldn't be any different from the human situation when we state that "since AI runs on analyzing pre-existing examples". – Samer Darwich 3 weeks ago
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    • I don't know enough about this topic to really comment in depth, but I just want to say I would find this extremely interesting to read about! – Caylee 3 weeks ago
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    Latest Comments

    Extremely interesting and well-written article. The application of Lasch’s concept of narcissism here was fascinating, and explained much of my personal discomfort with how art seems to be consumed, displayed, and interacted with in this age. While I don’t think art of any kind should be ‘gate-kept’ and locked within the walls of an institution, there was definitely a sense of the art being cheapened when I attended a van Gogh immersive exhibition. One of the main things for me though was just how out of place the music was – they played only very well-known and frankly ‘comfortable’ pieces of classical music that complemented neither the artworks nor the artist’s time period. I thought that immersive art exhibitions could be much more plausible, enjoyable, and even beneficial to the understanding of the art, if only a bit more thought was put into the overall experience, rather than it just being a palatable opportunity for an Instagram post.

    Are Immersive Exhibitions Ruining Art?

    Excellent overview of enduring stories that have become archetypal! Also loved the question of whether modernisations cause more harm than good in their treatment of a beloved narrative – can they destroy the original message? But I guess, all in the name of continuing the existence of these timeless tales…

    Preservation, Insight and Growth Through Literary Modernizations

    As someone who studied music and now wants to pursue writing, and has felt confused ever since about how to mediate the two art forms, this article has given me much hope! Not only am I more inspired to takes notes and apply lessons from different art forms to writing, your article has been incredibly informative in *how* exactly I could frame that learning and apply it to narrative fiction. Amazing content and a well-structured article. I’ve always been interested in how the “pure” musical aspects of numbers in musical theatre have communicated the unspoken feelings of the characters, thereby guiding the understanding of the audience as well i.e. like when a familiar theme sounds in the background. Very Wagner ‘leitmotif’ ! Also agree musical theatre definitely deserves much more attention as both a musical and storytelling form.

    Using Musical Theater as a Literary Muse