In his autobiography, Miles Davis complained that ancient artists were like robots.
He spoke of the experience – he had studied classical music at Juilliard and recorded with classical artists even though he had become a world-renowned jazz musician.
As a professor of music at the University of Florida, which transforms itself into an “AI university,” I often reflect on Davis’ words, and the way artists have become machines over the past century. At the same time, I see how machines have been improved in imitation of human improvement, in all aspects of life.
I wonder what the limits of mechanical innovation will be, and what human activities will survive the rise of intelligent technology.
Rise of machine renewal
Machinery has long been prominent in jobs that involve consistent production of the planned product – imagine that similar Toyota cars are mass-produced in the factory.
Improved operations are not based on rules, are too wet, chaotic or functional, and are very straightforward in the process. AI has been making significant progress in this area.
Consider the following examples:
The trade ports of Wall Street, Tokyo, and London were once filled with heated debates from traders who shouted and showed orders, responding in real time to changing circumstances. These trading holes have been largely replaced by algorithms.
Self-driving technology can soon replace human drivers, using our liquid decision-making processes. Private cars are currently stumbling where great developmental strength is needed, such as dealing with pedestrians.
Many social networks have been replaced by the sterile task of carefully writing emails or social media posts. Email speculation will continue to emerge, bringing continuous quality of action to our relationship. (“Hello Siri, send an email to Amanda and congratulate her on her promotion.”)
IBM’s Deep Blue computer defeated world chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997, but it took another 20 years for AI to defeat the top players in the board game. That’s because go-to has a huge number of options that can be moved at any time, and there are almost no rules – it needs to be improved. However people end up incomparable with the machine: In 2019, former world champion Lee Sedol retired from professional sports, citing the rise of AI as a reason.
Music is like a machine
Machinery replaces human inactivity at a time when classical music has discarded it.
Prior to the 20th century, almost all major figures in Western art music were successful in composition, performance, and revival. Johann Sebastian Bach was best known as an organist, with his first life writer describing the development of his organ as “more devoted, more modest, more modest and superior” than his songs.
But in the 20th century there was a breakdown in the artist-composer’s culture-developer in specialized areas.
Players are on the verge of a proliferation of recording techniques that fill consumers with a variety of songs that are consistent, consistent and accurate. Ancient musicians had to regularly submit professional flaws to match, sometimes downplaying the Olympic genre.
Former pianist Glenn Gould was the source and producer of the scene – he despised the intensity and competition of live performances and retired on stage at the age of 31, but returned to the studio to actively combine works of art that were impossible to do in one go.
Designers in particular have abandoned the serious pursuit of analysis or performance. Moderns are beginning to attract processes, algorithms and mathematical models, which reflect modern technological advances. The most sophisticated high-tech songs require mechanical precision for players, but many postmodern minimalist points also require robotic accuracy.
Music notes fill the page.
A quote of piano music by Brian Ferneyhough of 1982, ‘Lemma-Icon-Epigram,’ which shows the complexity of high-quality music. University of Florida Art and Architecture Library, CC BY-SA
Functional quote from ‘Lemma-Icon-Epigram. ’Metier335 KB (download)
Development has almost completely stopped being part of classical music, but it flourished in a new art form: jazz. Yet jazz was struggling to find unity, especially in the U.S., whose homeland was a country, due in large part to the racist part of the system. The old world even has its own kind of “one rule of thumb”: Works that contain refinement or written by jazz composers are often dismissed as illegal by the ancient organization.
A recent New York Times article asked orchestras to open up opportunities for improvement and collaborate with jazz luminaries such as saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell, who has composed numerous orchestral works. However, college and university music programs have divided and discriminated against jazz students, leaving orchestral artists with little or no training in development. Instead, the musicians in the orchestra sit down according to their set standards, and their job is to replicate the motives of the main character.
They are the machines of the music world. In the future, will they be the ones to lose the most?
Davis perfects the art of imperfection
The AI march continues, but will it be able to engage in true renewal?
The machines easily replicate things, but improve the process. In pure music development, there is no predetermined structure and no precise performance with ideas.
And improvisation is not just a quick make-up; if that were the case, AI would cross the difference between the two because of the speed of the calculation.
Instead, improvement is an intangible, quality quality of the human being caused by a conflict between ability and creativity. The machines will always be highly skilled, but will they be able to stop counting and switch to the precise creative mode, like a jazz musician going from a practice room to an egig?
Davis reached a point in Juilliard where he had to decide his future. He was deeply connected to classical music and was known to walk through Stravinsky schools in his pocket. He will later compliment composers from Bach to Stockhausen and record the translation of songs by Manuel de Falla, Heitor Villa-Lobos and Joaquín Rodrigo.
However there were many reasons to leave the old world with jazz. Davis tells of playing “about two notes in 90 bars” in an orchestra. This is in stark contrast to the extraordinary challenge and promotion of late-night shows by artists such as Thelonious Monk and Charlie Parker.
He recognized the reality of apartheid and “knew that no white orchestra was going to hire him.” (In contrast, Davis regularly hired white players, such as Lee Konitz, Bill Evans and John McLaughlin.)
And he was a controversial machine.
But in jazz, Davis was able to turn his professional struggles and trumpets into a terrifying, dignified sound. His negative notes, missed notes and cracked notes become wheels, gossip and groans that reflect the human condition. Not only did he carry these “mistakes,” but he also worked hard at them in a dangerous way that put color above the line and showed accuracy.
His art of imperfection was his own, and that is where the jazz paradox is. Davis left Juilliard three months later, but became one of the most important musical figures of the 20th century.
Miles Davis received the buttocks and trumpet horns. Miles Davis / YouTube1.19 MB (download)
Today the ground has changed.
Juilliard has a thriving jazz program led by another trumpet with experience in classical and jazz music – Wynton Marsalis, who has won two Grammy awards for his solo work. And while the narrative of “robots coming to our works” is short, this removal of people took place very quickly, greatly accelerating the epidemic of COVID-19.
We are hurting the moment when real robots could replace Davis’ “old” robots – perhaps the other 20 violinists in the orchestra – if they were at first a scam.
However, we can soon find out that jazz artists cannot be put back in their place.
Rich Pellegrin is an assistant professor of music theory and an assistant professor at the Center for Arts, Migration, and Entrepreneurship at the University of Florida.