AI-assisted Music – The Invisible Hand of Progress

An AI-assisted creative space

Throughout technologies’ disruptive journey, creative beings have generally welcomed the slew of possibilities provided by their performance and efficiency. Musicians across creative disciplines are adapting to an emergent, artificially Intelligent mode of creation, production and collaboration. Moreover, the music industry is pivoting towards an AI-assisted productivity frame-work and utilising the benefits the technologies can produce. In this blogpost, AI-assisted Music – The Invisible Hand of Progress, we ask: what results of this change? Will creatives benefit? And, will we remain relevant?

AI-assisted technology
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AI-assisted music production

Musicians have been experimenting with A.I. music since Hiller and Isaacson created the first A.I. music composition Illiac Suite for String Quartet, in 1957. Following on from A.I’s musical arrival, we have sped towards a present whereby, A.I. is embedded in most aspects of the creative process. Music production, DAWs, plugins etc. are increasingly reliant on their AI to increase useability and productivity. We live in an era of automated music mixing/mastering, audio restoration and optimisation that enables comprehensive productivity and unlimited accessibility.

Consequently, AI has the capacity to engender more expression and produce a swathe of new voices. Due to the automated nature of these technologies, the toil of music production is eased, enabling further output. Musicians can focus on their music and allow their AI to worry about production.

The AI musician

An AI collaborator can ideate and reciprocate ideas with a human counterpart, taking the music in interesting and original directions. Interestingly, if we find ourselves in an original soundscape, the potential for originality increases.

AI Musician
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For instance, electronic music artists Ben Hayes and Hector Plimmer provided much food for thought in regards to AI collaboration. Using a large quantity of musical reference, their AI music generator would extract characteristics of pre-existing musical structures. After extrapolating the relevant data, it would provide its own musical representation. Furthermore, the AI and human collaborators influenced each other in a reciprocal exchange and did in fact move in a cohesive manner.

See our article Humans and Machines: Ben Hayes and Hector Plimmer on AI-assisted Music Creation for further reading.

The AI music artist

Esoteric genre-bender Actress has often championed AI’s inclusion in the idiom of electronic music. In his modern reimagining of Stockhausen’s maniacally deranged opera Welt Parliament, Actress employed his AI Young Paint. Young paint is an integral component in the musical output and narrative. Throughout the performance, Young Paint responds to musical ques, improvises and proactively directs the music. It ideates and responds to themes and to the tone of the performance; thus challenging the very idea of creativity and collaboration.

Expectations of an automated music industry

The fusion of musical creativity and A.I seems to be potentially boundless. While technology becomes more advanced and integral, we are due to see A.I. with larger banks of musical reference, optimised inference capabilities and greater musical dexterity. Consequently, we will see an influx of AI optimised or AI-assisted music now and in the near future.

The music business is in the middle of another radical transformation and its pursuit of profit and technological advancement, it will inevitably lead to ubiquitous AI implementation. Musicians of today and the future will have to grapple with the uncertainty that arises from this disruption and hopefully harnesses it for their own gain. In the meantime, they will have to cope with a vastly superior creator who can produce more music than they themselves could ever have dreamed of.

A new hope?

Ultimately, it’s not all doom and gloom, it’s just uncertain. On one hand, you have a more efficient, musical powerhouse AI ready to blow our limited human musicality out of the water. On the other, you have a genuine cause for optimism, many of the AI music software being developed seem to act as an aid fo musicians productivity. With this in mind, creatives can be optimally productive and realise their artistic vision with a minimum of fuss. Whether this optimism translates into more quality, experience enriching music remains to be seen, conversely, its bi-products are set to revolutionise the creative space. For now, it’s up to us how we harness its boundless potential and we can mould a new era of sonic progress if we pay it the respect it deserves.


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