NYU Department of music

Graduate composition seminar of Jaime Oliver

A diverse community of students was present at this seminar: composers, performers, musicologists, ethnomusicologists, etc. This was also reflected in one of the Mentimeter slides on musical identity as many categories were checked outside of the traditional composer/performer divide, e.g. mixed multimedia artists, and experimental futurists were also checked.

During the presentation, students were fascinated to know how the Robot Arm AI score worked in terms of interpretation, if the AI would reproduce the same score and what was the relationship of the score to how musicians interpreted it. The answer was that it is not a direct relationship but that it also included the movement of the arm and the lines and dotes that it was producing, all were up for interpretation by the performer(s).

-AI much like the human is on its journey in this dance of interpretation.

There was also a question whether an improvisation between musicians could be a score, and we answered that it is not if it is a free improvisation however if certain elements were fixed between musicians, yet open to interpretation it could still be a score.

-some interesting suggestions were brought up, such as feeding the AI more traditional notation. An example of this is the work that Craig has done with the Borromeo quartet and handwritten copies of Beethoven’s score, however, this has not been tried with the Robot Ai arm yet.

-some cybernetic extensions of humans in the work of people like Stelarc and Milford Graves were mentioned, this shows that the spirit of experimentalism was alive in this music department and that the students were aware of the seminal work of these artists.

-thus, it was not too difficult to dive into examples of cyber extensions of Jess Fisher and other brainwave reading mechanisms since some students were already aware of the previous work that has been done

-some institutions that inspire up-and-coming musicians and undergrads were mentioned, such as World Heart Beat Music Academy in London – how these inspire students but also build on the reality of the generation that is raised on coding

-it was noted that skills in coding are becoming more and more useful to students and that computer coding and languages skills could play a higher role in undergraduate higher education

-many older students tend to regret that coding and computer skills were not more prevalent when they were doing their graduate degrees and wish to make up for it in their current courses