Musical and meta-musical conversations

Ben-Tal, Oded and Dolan, David (2023) Musical and meta-musical conversations. In: The International Conference on AI and Musical Creativity (AIMC 2023); 30 Aug - 1 Sept 2023, Brighton, U.K.. (Unpublished)


This collaboration emerged out of informal conversation between the authors about improvisation. Ben-Tal is a composer/researcher who has been using Music Information Retrieval (MIR) techniques and AI as tools for composition. Dolan is a performer/improviser and researcher on improvisation, creativity and expressive performance with little knowledge of music technology. Dolan became intrigued but also highly sceptical about Ben-Tal’s ideas of musical dialogues between human and computer as a basis for co-creation. They agreed to meet and trial the possibility of real-time improvisation between piano and computer. By his own admission, Dolan came to this first session assuming he will prove the inadequacy of such a set-up for joint improvisation based on extended tonal music idiom.  He found himself equally surprised and alarmed when he experienced moments that felt, to himself,  as real dialogue with the machine. This proof-of-concept session provided the starting point for an ongoing collaboration: developing a unique duo-improvisation within the context of computationally creative tools, real-time interaction, tonal-music and human-computer interaction. Central to this work are musical dialogues between Dolan on the piano and Ben-Tal’s computing system as they improvise together. These are surrounded and complemented by conversations between the authors about the system, about improvisation, composition, performance, music and AI.  This presentation starts from a description of the current improvisation set-up and the development that allowed us to arrive at this stage. The following section re-enacts some of the conversations that the authors engaged in, which will illuminate the learning and discovery process they underwent together. We will end by drawing out important themes emerging from the musical and meta-musical conversations in relation to current debates around music and AI.

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