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Does Emily Howell Care if You Listen?
June 10, 2011 8:28 AM   Subscribe

"Milton Babbitt definitely cared if you listen, but according to Noah S. Weber, Emily Howell definitely does not since it is not possible for Emily Howell to care about anything. However, David Cope, Emily Howell's creator, sees it somewhat differently." -- Frank J. Oteri
posted by Dr. Fetish (6 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
> "Churning out?" Well, I suppose one could call it that, though as I discuss in my books and articles, it takes a great deal of time and effort to produce the resultant music. "Soulless?" Well, I'm glad that someone knows what soul is. I surely don't. Maybe Weber can enlighten me. For example, where exactly is soul located?

Is this an article about a computer program or the liner notes to a Kenny G album?
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:52 AM on June 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Is there nothing to stop Emily Howell from churning out soulless, conformist tripe?"

It's probably easier than stopping Andrew Lloyd Webber.
posted by Wolfdog at 9:52 AM on June 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Examples of Emily Howell's music: 1 2
posted by flug at 10:12 AM on June 10, 2011


There is still a human intention here - the intention behind the creation of the program, and the feeding of parameters. You strum some instruments and pound on others. You draw on a staff to make some compositions, for others you click on buttons in software, or in this example you feed it with rules and examples. This music is no more "machine generated" than any of the other music people listen to today. Every musical instrument is a machine, and every composition technique is an algorithm (some are just more strict than others).
posted by idiopath at 10:50 AM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can tell it's really written by an artist trying to wrap their head around scientific matter. The computer science details are wrong, a lot of sub-issues are glossed over, and the overall argument is incoherent/almost train-of-thought style (which is very difficult for a reader to get anything out of since the issue at hand is pretty complicated). Also, footnote #4 is just a disaster, it is that bad. Cope's work deserves a more skilled criticism than this, preferably from someone with a STEM background (I don't know, someone from IRCAM?).

Lines like this:
But Emily cannot generate her own style, because, as limited by a lack of self, she cannot interpret the works of others; she can only analyze them.

There are so many things going on in that sentence; if the author actually tried to properly argue such assertions, the piece would have been a lot more informative.
posted by polymodus at 12:26 PM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


"The computer science details are wrong, a lot of sub-issues are glossed over, and the overall argument is incoherent/almost train-of-thought style (which is very difficult for a reader to get anything out of since the issue at hand is pretty complicated)."

Agreed. Of course, Weber's really a conductor, which makes me think he really shouldn't be spouting off on the subject.
posted by Dr. Fetish at 12:36 PM on June 10, 2011


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