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The future of music

  1. Feb 14, 2006 #1

    Ivan Seeking

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    I often wonder what music will be like in a century or two. In fact I wonder if humans will have anything to do with music, beyond listening. Will we eventually write a program that is the perfect composer? Will all acoustic instruments be abandoned and replaced with electronic ones, or will we even continue to play instruments manually? And what of singing? Will we continue to sing, or will the computer do it better than any human could, some day?
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  3. Feb 14, 2006 #2
    I think, yes, there will be music that is as completely computer generated from start to scratch as it can be, but at the same time all the usual "hand-made" music will continue as strong as ever.

    If you know any groups of kids (teen-twenties) everyone still plays the guitar, many of them acoustic guitar, and sing, too. The main difference I see because of the electronic's revolution is that today each and every garage band or solo performer can put out their own personal CD, try to sell it, or just pass it out to friends and relatives.

    I don't think live performance, and the real human voice will ever go out of fashion. San Diego, at least, has tons of clubs that feature live music.
  4. Feb 14, 2006 #3
    I guess it dependce on if you think computers eventualy will be able to do everything humans do and maby even better.

    To create new good music you would need a good AI that understands what people want to listen to, but even then there is no perfect composition so there can be no perfect composer imo.
  5. Feb 14, 2006 #4
    Sorry if this is a bit of a hichjacking of the thread :( But its kind of related.
    But I wonder if we will have any real human actors left in 20-30 years or so or if all movies will be 100% computer generated.
  6. Feb 14, 2006 #5

    Ivan Seeking

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    Computer averaged faces are found to be more attractive than real faces.

    Computers don't whine and take big paychecks...of course programmers do. :biggrin:

    Already the most popular voices are being recorded and digitized for future use in either their original form, or perhaps some computer enhanced or composite form that generates the greatest appeal.
  7. Feb 14, 2006 #6

    Ivan Seeking

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    As we begin to understand the brain, doesn't it make sense that a computer might one day write the most beautiful music?
  8. Feb 14, 2006 #7

    that leads to another more scary thing. If we soon can computer generate environments that look just like the real one without any great expense, how will we ever be able to trust ANYTHING we se on the media.:surprised

    But about the original topic. How could a computer ever get the skill of someone like bethoven in composing music? Dont we have to identify what made the greats great before we can program a computer to be great?
  9. Feb 14, 2006 #8


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    There was a thread posted recently in the Metaphysics & Epistemology forum that touches on this topic tangentially: Can computer music "speak" to us?

    In it is a link to an article by Douglas Hofstadter talking about this issue of whether computers can generate music as well as human composers, and apparently they're getting pretty close: Sounds Like Bach
  10. Feb 14, 2006 #9
    Ivan, you're such a futurist! I like these types of questions because they make me use my imagination, but I also think it's kind of depressing how simple things are taken away from humanity and given to computers. I sure hope that something as old (yet still so popular) as music would not be discontinued.
  11. Feb 14, 2006 #10
    I can't think of a single song released in the past ten years which was *really* good...... :/
  12. Feb 14, 2006 #11


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    Depends on your tastes I guess. If you like rock there's been some good stuff released if you know where to look.
  13. Feb 14, 2006 #12
    You play any instruments or write music, Ivan?
  14. Feb 14, 2006 #13
    I agree with Zoob that it wouldn't ever completely fall to comuters. Personally I prefer music with real instruments to electronic music.
    Tom Waits has a cult following. He's gotten quite experimental with his music. He utilizes discordance, off tune notes, and that incredibly raspy gravely voice. I don't think he even sings completely on key all the time either though I don't know how to sing myself so it's hard to determine.
  15. Feb 14, 2006 #14
    Name some :)

    I don't mean just "good" songs.... I mean spectacular ones.
  16. Feb 14, 2006 #15
    Musical taste has got to be a really subjective thing.
  17. Feb 14, 2006 #16


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    I am kind of partial to classical rock pre ~1972, and maybe stretch it to late 70's or early 80's based on a few exceptions rather than the general rule.

    I can't think of "beyond listening" - then it would not be music.

    Even computers can't match the sound of certain horns, string instruments, or the human voice. Think if Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, especially side 2 of Tarkus, or side 2 of Brain Salad Surgery.

    Of course, one can do some fantastic things with a sythesizer, e.g. Keith Emerson of ELP, Mike Pinder of the Moody Blues, Rick Wakeman of Yes.

    I prefer the sound of a good electric bass, or a stand up double bass.

    I think a combination of sythesizer, electronic instruments and the electric and bass guitars work well, and I hope they are around for a long time.

    I also like chant and chorale.
  18. Feb 14, 2006 #17
    How many spectacular songs have you heard, period? I can only think of a few songs that I would consider "spectacular"
  19. Feb 14, 2006 #18
    Yes. Computer music has just become a new type among the others, and I doubt it will push them out and replace them.

    If I dug I'm sure I could eventually come up with many quotes from the 1800's predicting the death of drawing and painting with the advent of photography. It never happened, though, because it turns out the measure of a good drawing or painting was never it's literal realism, the forte of the photograph, but always how a given individual artist expresses his/her take on reality. That's never clearer or more interesting than when channeled through the physiological mechanics of the artists own body.

    Same with music. It's much more exiting and intriquing to listen to the interplay of, say, Leo Kottke and his acoustic guitars, than it is to hear "perfect" music. You mention Tom Waits. People want more than perfection and beauty, they also want character. I once read Lotte Lenya described as having "an impossibly ugly voice," perfect for the roles she played and music she sang. While I think "ugly" is the wrong word for her voice, it points out that successful music is frequently a matter, not of beauty and perfection, but of the right balance of the sweet and salty, just as we might say it's a matter of the right balance of the loud and the soft, or of fast and slow, or dissonant and consonant.

    I can't see it would be easier to write a "character" program for music than to just let it take place in nature. Stuff happens that no one would think of trying to deliberately design. Who would have concieved of, and tried to design, the strange jazz style of Steely Dan lead singer Donald Fagan?
  20. Feb 14, 2006 #19

    Ivan Seeking

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    I studied and played the piano as a kid, but now I just tinker and play a few old songs, now and again.

    ...never did master the transition from Funeral For a Friend to Love Lies Bleeding. :grumpy:
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2006
  21. Feb 14, 2006 #20
    When you tried out that past life regression thing you came up as a pianist, and you started a thread in Mind and Brain asking why we enjoy music. Now this thread. I think you may be a musician trapped in the body of an engineer.
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