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Next wave of technology: Musician Modelling?

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Next wave of technology: Musician Modelling?

Postby desmond » Wed Mar 03, 2010 7:29 pm

We've kind of got to a good place in terms of modelling instruments and sounds - not perfectly, but in a practically useful way and reasonably accurate way.

How long until we can start getting modelled *performances*? Ie not just getting the "sound" of Dave Gilmour in a plugin, but also the playing characteristics and style?

Interesting Wired article on this: Virtual Musicians, Real Performances

http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2010/03/virtual-musicians-real-performances/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+wired%2Findex+%28Wired%3A+Index+3+%28Top+Stories+2%29%29

What do we think of this kind of technology? An abomination? The death of the value of musicianship? A way to make cheap, fake music without the original artists being involved? A way for record companies to exploit their musicians (even dead ones!) even more? An interesting creative approach to take you outside your own style boundaries? the next big copyright war? A waste of time?

How would you feel if *you* were modelled and your playing characteristics could be licensed to others, or downloaded and copied on the internet?

Like all technology, it's bound to be fairly rough at first, but getting better over time. This would seem to have some complex and interesting ramifications, though...

(No, this isn't a homework question ;) just found it interesting...)
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Re: Next wave of technology: Musician Modelling?

Postby Tui » Wed Mar 03, 2010 10:10 pm

desmond wrote: A waste of time?


Pretty much, I should think. The very essence of what makes an artist "great" is still missing: Creativity - the ability to move beyond one's limitations, and beyond what one has achieved previously.

I listened to the Rachmaninov sample, but found it rather unconvincing. I doesn't sound or feel like a real, human performance. It sounds quite mechanical, let alone as if Rachmaninov was playing himself. Listen to historic recordings, and you will know what I mean.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oA0kXDMKiLg

Besides, I can't help thinking we're looking at yet another example of people rather desperately trying to make up for a lack in musical talent. Autotune and groove correction, programmes that "compose like Mozart". Virtual reality for those that have a problem with real reality. Enlightenment for the unenlightened.

Not to mention the intellectual bankruptcy required, that would make one desire to play an instrument exactly like somebody else.
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Re: Next wave of technology: Musician Modelling?

Postby jellyjim » Wed Mar 03, 2010 10:11 pm

desmond wrote:How would you feel if *you* were modelled and your playing characteristics could be licensed to others, or downloaded and copied on the internet?

I'd feel pity for the poor fools that stumped up cash to play like me! :)
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Re: Next wave of technology: Musician Modelling?

Postby johnny h » Thu Mar 04, 2010 9:22 am

Tui wrote:
desmond wrote: A waste of time?

Pretty much, I should think. The very essence of what makes an artist "great" is still missing: Creativity - the ability to move beyond one's limitations, and beyond what one has achieved previously.

I listened to the Rachmaninov sample, but found it rather unconvincing. I doesn't sound or feel like a real, human performance. It sounds quite mechanical, let alone as if Rachmaninov was playing himself. Listen to historic recordings, and you will know what I mean.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oA0kXDMKiLg

Besides, I can't help thinking we're looking at yet another example of people rather desperately trying to make up for a lack in musical talent. Autotune and groove correction, programmes that "compose like Mozart". Virtual reality for those that have a problem with real reality. Enlightenment for the unenlightened.

Not to mention the intellectual bankruptcy required, that would make one desire to play an instrument exactly like somebody else.

The clip on their site is very poor; sounds cold and mechanical. Its in an interesting idea but they need to do a LOT of work to make it convincing.

As for the "intellectual bankruptcy" rubbish, that's been said about every advance in music technology throughout history, and it always amounts to the same thing; fear of progress.
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Re: Next wave of technology: Musician Modelling?

Postby Tui » Thu Mar 04, 2010 12:18 pm

"Fear of progress".

This deserves one of those

:bouncy:

and for good measure, one of those:

:roll:

"Progress" - as in machines attempting to emulate human skills?

Wait, here's one more:

:headbang:
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Re: Next wave of technology: Musician Modelling?

Postby franciskimberley » Thu Mar 04, 2010 4:07 pm

Tui, while I appreciate your feelings I'm with johnny h on this. What's being suggested sounds like a different form of sampling. I'm too young to know first hand what the feelings were when sampling first reared it's head but I can imagine that they were pretty similar to some of the questions desmond lists in his OP.

AI/technology/whatever has so long to go (and needs to be allowed to develop in this direction) before it can "intelligently" create (not re-create) a human's emotional nuances expressed through an art, programming a computer to study MIDI and then copy it is hardly the death knell of human musicians. Also, using Tui's description, I perceive being creative as being different to being progressive (although not wholly disassociated from each other). Whether or not this technology is a waste of time it is progress of sorts, and, once refined enough, will doubtless be enthusiastically received by all who find a use for it.

FWIW I remain to be convinced at this particular stage in the technology's life!
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Re: Next wave of technology: Musician Modelling?

Postby johnny h » Thu Mar 04, 2010 5:09 pm

Tui wrote:"Fear of progress".

This deserves one of those

:bouncy:

and for good measure, one of those:

:roll:

"Progress" - as in machines attempting to emulate human skills?

Wait, here's one more:

:headbang:

That was a little immature for someone who claims to be against "intellectual bankruptcy"!
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Re: Next wave of technology: Musician Modelling?

Postby Guy Johnson » Thu Mar 04, 2010 5:58 pm

Hmm. All very well. Possible I expect. But ... How will they make an app that's dependant on a girlfriend to keep them housed, fed and washed? :tongue:
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Re: Next wave of technology: Musician Modelling?

Postby Tui » Thu Mar 04, 2010 8:58 pm

Not that I'm particularly surprised about the idea of "modelling musicians". Judging by what's become popular in the mainstream, karaoke is the new artistry, and imitation is the new creativity.

Why not. People have learned to embrace moronism in most other aspects of life, why not music as well.

When I was a wee boy, you had to learn to play an instrument, if you wanted to play music. Imagine that! I know, outrageous. Honestly, I don't know how we managed, back in those dark days.

Western culture is so screwed. It's kind of sad and funny at the same time, to watch it from the sidelines, as it disappears up its own backside.
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Re: Next wave of technology: Musician Modelling?

Postby johnny h » Thu Mar 04, 2010 10:10 pm

Tui wrote:Not that I'm particularly surprised about the idea of "modelling musicians". Judging by what's become popular in the mainstream, karaoke is the new artistry, and imitation is the new creativity.

Why not. People have learned to embrace moronism in most other aspects of life, why not music as well.
Sure! How astute of you to notice!

When I was a wee boy, you had to learn to play an instrument, if you wanted to play music. Imagine that! I know, outrageous. Honestly, I don't know how we managed, back in those dark days.

Western culture is so screwed. It's kind of sad and funny at the same time, to watch it from the sidelines, as it disappears up its own backside.

If anyone is disappearing up their own backside...
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Re: Next wave of technology: Musician Modelling?

Postby steve355 » Thu Mar 04, 2010 11:20 pm

If someone could do a really lifelike model of Pixie Lott I'd be keen to have a go.
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Re: Next wave of technology: Musician Modelling?

Postby hollowsun » Fri Mar 05, 2010 12:16 am

steve355 wrote:If someone could do a really lifelike model of Pixie Lott I'd be keen to have a go.
:)
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Re: Next wave of technology: Musician Modelling?

Postby hollowsun » Fri Mar 05, 2010 1:10 am

Stravinsky was a great advocate for the mechanical Pianola or 'player piano' and (along with several other composers of the time such as Hindemith, Percy Grainger and Herbert Howells) wrote several pieces for it.

And now there's THIS.

As in all things, there's nothing much new. People will always seek out new things and exploit the technology of the day with which to make music (if they hadn't, we'd still be banging logs!) but none of this really threatens 'real' musicians.

There are much bigger threats to that than a 'modelled muso" ... such as peoples' attitude that music should be free (and newspapers encouraging this by giving it away for free on cover CDs to boost sales), such as draconian licensing laws by this idiotic, myopic government which makes live music ever more difficult to perform and so on.
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Re: Next wave of technology: Musician Modelling?

Postby Rich Hanson » Fri Mar 05, 2010 11:25 am

It just brings to mind arguments that came up 20 or more years ago about sampling - people jumping up and down saying words to the effect of "this will replace real orchestras, who wants to go to a concert to see someone press a button" while failing to see that second half of the argument effectively negates the first half.

As for Western culture "disappearing up its own backside", in the mainstream possibly that may even be true, but I can think of uses for this technology that wouldn't involve the replacement of real musicians, I could envisage it being a useful writing tool. It's still the human in charge. Why is this so different to Mozart throwing dice, for example?
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