Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Improvised Listening

Free improvisation is a musical movement from the 60s that developed as a response to the almost academic air of precision jazz had adopted. In "Quantum Improvisation", Pauline Oliveros offers a straightforward definition of free improvisation: "nothing is known in advance of making the music".

If the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics is valid, then all possible universes necessarily exist. Therefore, every sound that has ever sounded or will ever sound already exists in some world. This makes the listening, rather than the sounding, the improvisation.

Oddly enough, Pauline's comments are preserved. When she talks about "Finding new sounds and new sound relationships", the "finding" only has to be interpreted as "listening to" rather than the natural interpretation, "creating". Her definition of free improvisation is preserved as well — the musicians don't know the music until it happens. That is, until they hear it.


Jason LaPorte said...

That sense of the listener being the one who improvises appeals to me -- the artist is, in my opinion, only the facilitator: the medium is the mind and heart of the observer. (The first time I thought of it this way was actually having a conversation with some of the Arts grads back when I first took Media Studio... seems so long ago now...)

It's that same thing I have been working on crafting in my stories, though I still havn't honed it far enough: that the story is REALLY made by the reader. I'm just describing a situation in such a way such that it begs for them to interpret it somehow.

Kyle said...

That sounds really cool, I'll be looking forward to making your stories happen :)

I should have mentioned — it's fun to think about what this means for AI. A truly creative AI would be one that could have its own preferences and interpretations of the work it produces (or the work of others).

Jason LaPorte said...

I wonder if that's why AI has seemed to fail in the last 50 years: all current AI's try to read the story and "understand it," perhaps the real point is to "write" the story from the getgo.

Finally, since I noticed you updated at 3AM and HAD to read everything (and will still be thinking about it for another hour before my mind will be able to shut up and sleep), I just want to say that I hate you. :)

Kyle said...

"perhaps the real point is to 'write' the story from the getgo." Exactly — the problem is with evaluating something like this. We have enough trouble responding to innovative human artists, what would we say to an innovative AI?

"I just want to say that I hate you." Go to sleep :)