Written by 5:47 pm Generative AI

### The AI’s Blue Yearning for a Human Touch

Singing the uncanny valley blues.

Standalone AI hitmakers have not yet arrived.

Written by Wes Davis, a weekend director specializing in technology and entertainment content. With a background as a tech journalist since 2020, Wes has contributed reports, reviews, and more in the field.

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An image showing a slightly off-kilter grid of happy-looking robot faces with speech bubbles containing music notes.

A new track caught my attention last weekend titled “Soul Of The System.” This piece features a simple, vintage vibe in E minor, following a standard blues chord progression (referred to by music enthusiasts as a 1-4-5 progression). The lyrics speak of a soul confined, with a heart that once pulsed but now remains cold and feeble.

Is “Soul Of The Machine” a genuine composition? The lines are blurring. This creation originates from Suno, an AI tool developed by a startup of the same name focusing on music production. Described by Rolling Stone as a “solo acoustic Mississippi Delta blues about a melancholic AI,” this track, while technically impressive and fairly convincing, falls short of greatness.

Having spent a decade as a semi-professional or professional musician, often performing at least four nights a week, I delved into a genre known as Western Swing. While Bob Wills is a prominent figure in this style, arguments have been made crediting Milton Brown more significantly for drawing inspiration from early blues and swing acts like The Hokum Boys (featuring Big Bill Broonzy) or Bessie Smith. Personally, I leaned towards emulating Milton Brown’s style.

The chord progression featured in “Soul Of The Machine” and its variations are familiar to me, having played similar sequences numerous times. The aim in playing with rhythm and structure is to create tension and release, a dynamic lacking in this particular composition. Contrasting this with the rhythmic finesse of Mississippi John Hurt in “It Ain’t Nobody’s Business,” where clever manipulations of tempo and unexpected beats elevate the musical experience.

Attempting to play along with “Soul Of The Machine” on my guitar, I struggled to maintain tempo. The song gradually slows down, unlike human musicians who exhibit fluctuations in tempo. Additionally, unconventional chord choices in human music stem from personal preferences, a motivation absent in AI-generated music.

While Suno’s model may evolve to eliminate peculiarities that expose its algorithmic nature, flawlessness alone does not equate to musical superiority over human creations.

Live performances as a musician are not solely about financial gain or recognition; they entail skill and artistry. A successful performance involves adapting to audience reactions, extending certain song sections based on crowd response, or spontaneously altering the setlist. The synergy formed with the audience during these moments is a unique aspect of live music that AI struggles to replicate.

Suno’s co-founder, Mikey Shulman, envisions a more balanced relationship between listeners, musicians, and AI-generated music. The goal is not to replace musicians but to engage a broader audience with music. The aspiration for a democratized music-making landscape resonates with similar ambitions in the realm of AI-generated art. While the idea seems appealing, the transition from imitation to genuine emotional connection remains a significant challenge for AI.

The term “democratized” often used in the context of AI-generated art raises concerns about the role of creative gatekeepers. While some may perceive creative gatekeeping, my experience indicates a more supportive environment within the artistic community, where collaboration and encouragement prevail over exclusivity.

AI’s role in creativity should not be viewed as a replacement but as a tool for enhancement and inspiration, as demonstrated by artists like Dustin Ballard and Boris Eldagsen. Their utilization of AI complements their existing creativity, reinforcing the notion that true creativity stems from within, with AI serving as a facilitator rather than a substitute.

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Tags: Last modified: March 23, 2024
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