Why AI Will NEVER Improvise Jazz – Better Sax
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Why AI Will NEVER Improvise Jazz

First, let’s define what we mean by “improvising a jazz solo.” In jazz music, improvising a solo means creating a unique and spontaneous musical performance on the spot, often in response to the other musicians in the group and the overall structure of the song. It requires a deep understanding of the language of jazz, as well as the ability to think creatively and express oneself musically in the moment.

Now, AI has come a long way in terms of its ability to analyze and understand music. There are AI programs that can generate original melodies, harmonies, and even entire songs.

But when it comes to improvising a jazz solo, there are a few key reasons why AI will likely never be able to fully match the level of creativity and expression that a human musician can bring to the table.

First, jazz is a highly expressive and emotional art form. It requires a deep understanding of the subtleties of human emotion and the ability to convey those emotions through music. AI may be able to analyze and understand emotional content in music, but it doesn’t have the ability to truly feel or experience emotion in the same way that a human does. This means that an AI-generated jazz solo may lack the emotional depth and authenticity that are essential to the art form.

Second, jazz is a collaborative and interactive art form. It requires the ability to respond and interact with other musicians in real-time, and to shape the direction of the music based on those interactions.

AI programs may be able to analyze and understand musical patterns and structures, but they don’t have the ability to fully engage in the give-and-take of musical conversation and communication that is essential to jazz.

Finally, jazz requires a deep understanding of musical history and tradition. It builds upon the contributions of past musicians and constantly pushes the boundaries of what is possible within the art form. AI programs may be able to analyze and understand musical patterns and structures, but they don’t have the ability to truly appreciate and understand the cultural and historical context of jazz in the same way that a human musician does.

So, to sum it up, while AI has made impressive strides in the realm of music, it is unlikely that it will ever be able to fully replicate the creativity, emotional depth, and interactive nature of jazz improvisation.

Jazz remains a uniquely human art form, and we can’t wait to see what the next generation of human musicians will bring to the table. Thanks for watching! If you enjoyed this video, be sure to like and subscribe for more content from BetterSax…

JUST KIDDING…

Now that… was word for word the response from ChatGPT when I asked it to write a script for a Better Sax YouTube Channel video about Why AI will never be able to improvise jazz solos.

Spooky right? Ok, this is the real me talking now.

It can write a pretty convincing script on the topic in about 10 seconds. And although I agree with pretty much everything it said in the script, I would not be at all surprised to hear AI generated jazz solos in the not so distant future.

And I mean solos that expert musicians would not be able to tell weren’t human generated.

Take a moment to leave a comment below with your thoughts on the topic.

Do you think AI can ever improvise bebop in real time? Would that be a good thing, or something terrible? Curious to hear your thoughts.

Jay’s Real Thoughts

Here’s what I think.

I think AI will be able to generate improvised jazz solos at some point in the near future. It’s probably less technically difficult than teaching it how to write a script.

Improvising in a bebop style can be more or less programmed and endless “original”  lines can be created with a few guidelines.

We can teach AI how to outline harmony effectively, how to use patterns and how to create phrases that make sense.

We can even tell it to play a wrong note here and there just to sound more human.

We know computers can play with perfect rhythm so we will want to tell it to not play too perfectly since that would sound weird.

We can teach AI to use the vocabulary of our favorite jazz improvisors and mix in some blues language and I bet it could do a pretty good job.

Would that be bad? Does it threaten our cultural identity or humanity somehow if a computer can replicate our art forms?

I don’t think so. While at first this idea horrified me a bit, after some thought it no longer bothers me and here’s why.

Why this doesn’t bother me as much…

There are several things that I am fairly sure AI and computers will never be able to do convincingly.

A computer will never, ever be able to play the saxophone. So even if a computer was able to improvise passable solos it would be limited to percussive instruments like the piano or vibraphone. Wind instruments cannot be disconnected from the human organism.

A computer could never sing.

And, a computer could never entertain humans in a performance. That takes so many intangible elements that only very talented and experienced human beings will ever be able to do it.

While I fully expect to see some amazing new developments in the world of music thanks to new AI tech, if anything these should serve as a reminder to us of how precious our cultural and artistic achievements are.

Music is one of the things that truly makes us humans unique in this world. While we may be able to teach robots and computers to do most things eventually, I believe that the things that are exclusive to the human race will have the most value in the distant future.

Remember in the terminator how the humans would use dogs to detect whether or not someone was a cyborg? While I’m sure dogs will always be able to tell the difference from a mile away, I bet there will be some future version of the Turing test that involves playing music to separate the humans from the computers.

If you liked this and are curious about other *potential* musical alternatives, check out my review of the Roland Aerophone AE-20 Wind Synth.

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About the Author

As the founder of BetterSax.com Jay’s mission is to help developing saxophone players break away from traditional music learning methods and discover a more efficient, practical and fun way to become a Better Sax player. The BetterSax YouTube channel’s videos have been watched by millions and thousands of students have made meaningful progress on their instrument thanks to BetterSax courses.

Jay Metcalf

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