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Web Science Institute

Can Jazz and AI co-exist?

Published: 7 April 2022
Music

In a special event last month, the Dan Mar-Molinero Jazz Orchestra performed alongside internationally renowned jazz musicians Julian Argüelles (saxophone) and Jasper Høiby (bass) and a very special guest the 'Jazz Transformer Algorithm'. The concert was a collaboration between Dan and Dr Thomas Irvine, Associate Professor in Music, Alan Turing Fellow and a Director of the Web Science Institute. Tom leads the project 'Jazz as Social Machine' at the Alan Turing Institute investigating, from a non-technical perspective, how humans and machines can work together in the field of jazz improvisation, and what this collaboration can tell us about the future of human- machine interaction, AI art—and jazz itself.

Tom , who has taught jazz history at the University of Southampton for 16 years, said “One of the striking things about working with Dan and the Jazz Transformer, is not that the machine is better than the human. Of course it isn’t! But together they can do musical things they can’t do on their own. This project is about how machines pretend to be creative, and it’s particularly interesting from the jazz point-of-view, as jazz presents special challenges: great solos are a combination of on-the-spot improvisation and years of practicing patterns passed down from other musicians. Looking at jazz as a social machine helps us understand this collaborative aspect.” 
 
Before the performance, Tom chaired a roundtable featuring Dame Wendy Hall, Executive Director of the Web Science Institute, Dave de Roure, Professor of e-Research at Oxford and the artists. The discussion included questions about the replacement of human musicians by machines and the difference between human experience and data. 

 

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