I went to see Goldie playing with (a subset of) The Heritage Orchestra the other day. Was very good. The drumming was magnificent. Equipped only with human hands and arms they'd managed to reproduce the machine gun clatter of early Goldie drum programming / sampling. Something I remember being entranced by because it was so super-human, so beyond human. It was something no human would think to play because they couldn't imagine being able to do so. The computer created a possibility, the humans explored it, and now can push on again.
I wonder if there's a useful metaphor in there about machines/computers/AI as tools and how they'll stretch and subvert the imagination, not just replace it.
Related: I keep thinking about this piece and, particularly, this paragraph:
"Jazz musicians have always improvised over different rhythms but, if you go to a jazz gig these days, you’re likely to hear a lot of musicians playing over the “slugging” beat popularised by the hip-hop producer J Dilla. It’s that wonky, slightly drunken-sounding funk beat that seems to have joined the arsenal of rhythms used by jazz musicians, alongside such mainstays as swing, bossa nova and the jazz waltz. “It’s basically the sound of someone sampling a funk beat on an Akai MPC sampler and editing it wrong,” says Rob Turner, drummer in the Mercury-nominated Manchester jazz trio Go Go Penguin. “Instead of starting the sample at the ‘transient’ – the start of the beat – it starts fractionally after that point. So the snare drums and hi-hats are all in slightly the wrong place. It sounds sluggish and disjointed and slightly screwed up, but it also sounds quite cool. And it’s something that young jazz drummers have worked out how to play. Go around music colleges and you’ll hear student drummers dividing up a bar into countless subdivisions and working how to ‘slug’ fluently – somewhere between ‘swung’ crotchets and ‘straight’ crotchets. Nowadays, so many young jazz drummers have learned to play like that we’ve started to call it the ‘college beat’. It shows you how jazz musicians have thoroughly internalised the hip-hop they’ve grown up with.”
Firstly, that's just interesting and cool. Secondly, I really like the very subtle, very musicianly disdain that radiates from the name 'college beat'. Thirdly, that's a similar thing isn't it? Humans impersonating machine artefacts and stretching their capabilities - and therefore their imaginative possibilities.