How infinite music breeds a culture of Beatle-heads
...you made me optimistic about some aspect of A.I. which i didn't think was possible...you made me think that there is some future Beatle's song that might be as good as Octopus's Garden...and you have definitively made me crave and be horrified of the prospect of entering some sort of demonic robotic k-hole where a hybrid Beatles and Grateful Dead cover band is fronted by the derelict corpses of the Rock-Afire Explosion, playing an infinite symphony of destruction for my melting mortal mind...i am most nervous about what this means for the infinite Carrot Top request i put into GPT a few weeks ago...great read...the fake peppers is incredible...bravo...
Wow. I've thought some about A.I. and art and A.I. and writing, but not A.I. and music. I don't know much about musical composition or notation, so that may be why. This is extremely interesting and, as always from you, Michael, superbly written. I'll be giving this a second read and some more thought.
This title may be my new favorite thing. And bless you for including all the other brainstormed options in your acknowledgments. I hope they make their way into some future fanfiction series--or better. They deserve attention atop something, in bold. And speaking of hope: the hope! the hope! and not in a "coked-up techno-optimism" way: "Imagine the sonic imagination of the Beatles unchained from the timbre of analog instruments. Imagine a guitar riff turning into a dog bark, and then into a plate smashing, and then back into a guitar, all within 3 seconds." This essay is deserving of all the reads.
this turned out beautifully! intro felt way better at this length 👌 thank you for imagining & sharing such an insightful, eye-opening piece.
maybe the band *will* finish that performance, after all? ;-)
This is next level Beatles fandom making me feel closer to 98th percentile (though tbh Wild Honey Pie isn't even the worst track on the White Album...it's Revolution 9). On purely aesthetic terms, there's a lot of uncanny valley going on here; there's an "undead" quality to some of the Jukebox tracks, of something being artificially reanimated like a dead frog with a car battery. I can see why your dad reacted the way he did. I think the other point that could be raised is that the fandom arises around shared experience (ie, collectively listening to the same albums over and over); and even in the case of the Grateful Dead, there's still a defined catalog of songs that fans adore with near-endless supply of versions (again, which are defined, shared, obsessed over on archive.org). More simply, it seems like fandom relies on shared experience of something precious, so to me there's a question of how that gets retained in this new era. How do you geek out with your friends in an environment of such overabundance? How do you share a moment with a stranger recognizing that random song that just came on at the bar? Within our lifetimes we'll likely see full generational turnover in Beatles fans and that shared experience can certainly evolve to something new and dynamic. I'm certainly not fighting the ooze, but I think the challenge will be finding shared meaning in such an overabundance of ooze. And this will somehow still coexist alongside people holding instruments in front of microphones and crowds, and maybe that will become all the more precious.
The Beatles was some of my first music memories. From beginning to end, I wonder about your 1% of the 1% brain, and how lucky I am to get to peek inside it! The essay is dense, informative, lusciously curious. I thought I was good at dissecting and dissassembling. But I just got a masterclass. All to say I enjoyed the essay. But also this:
"You are officially at the halfway point."
This is another topic we can talk about. One of my earliest posts here is AI x Marian iconography https://www.explorations.ph/p/after-501-years-we-can-finally-see
Lovely post, thank you!
I mostly wonder how music licensing evolves around AI and how that impacts the music labels. Also thinking about what role the big consumer apps (e.g., Spotify, Apple Music) play, and what opportunities emerge for building new consumer products.
Thanks again for writing a killer post.
Wow Mike. I finally had the chance to read and properly digest this. I remember you telling me about AI Beatles and how exciting you were by it, and how mystified I was. You captured the skepticism people like me have and gave very strong arguments as to why we may want to think about music in AI differently. I'm intrigued, bewildered, and curious. Also, your writing continues to grow in brightness, sharpness, and clarity.