Grimes Predicts The Future Of Music

Written by | November 22, 2019 3:06 am | No Comments

The Future of Music

Grimes in 2012


Grimes was recently the guest of astrophysicist Sean Carroll for his Mindscape podcast (via Brooklyn Vegan) and she talked about her music of course, and a bunch of other things but especially about Artificial Intelligence and the future of music and art.

Grimes apparently goes by ‘c’ these days, as c from the famous Einstein’s formula E = mc2, where c is the speed of light, a somewhat pretentious moniker, almost as pretentious as Prince’s symbol, but Grimes seems to be really in touch with the future. Among the things discussed, she abundantly talked about A.I. and it’s growing role in music: ‘I feel like we’re at the end of art, human art. Once there’s actually AGI (Artificial General Intelligence), they’re gonna be so much better at making art than us…once AI can totally master science and art, which could happen in the next 10 years, probably more like 20 or 30 years.’

She even mentioned that ‘live music is going to be obsolete soon’ evoking the fake and very polished Instagram world that everyone seems to be turned to these days.

Basically, Grimes is predicting that A.I. is gonna be so good at making music that humans would soon be unable to compete and will give up. So are we looking for a future dominated by cyborg music with avatars headlining live concerts?

If A.I. is already composing music, and altering every pop song in the current charts, machines are still not composing great art… if I get any free time someday, I will download all the free apps of this page to test them, this Humtap one seems so intriguing: ‘just hum a melody and the app will automatically generate an entire song using different instruments.’ But so far, everything I have been able to listen to is boring, predictable, generic and far from replacing human compositions (at least the ones I like)… but you may already hear some interesting stuff here and there.

Right now, A.I. needs to be fed with previous music, ‘The project team fed hundreds of Eurovision songs – melodies and lyrics – into a neuron network. Then, algorithms produced thousands of new tunes and lines of verse, from which a few musical units were carefully selected and “welded” into a song’ says one description. If it’s not very different from real musicians who are finding inspirations in previous musical work, so far A.I. had not been super creative: it may compose a new Chopin tune, even better than Chopin as Grimes says, but would A.I. have invented Chopin? No.

That said, we don’t know what could happen in the future as progress in A.I. follows an exponential growth. But something strikes me when I listen to modern pop music, the constant auto-tuning and the production that seems to eliminate any human flaw that makes art so human, and touching. I am never moved by an auto-tuned voice, never, it always sounds like a machine and I am forever looking for this imperfection during a live show that makes me fall in love with a song and an artist.

Young crowd are more and more drawn toward the opposite, as all these popular songs are heavily retouched, as soulless electronic music makes the round in music festivals. I am afraid A.I. generated music will follow this trend and will become popular because it corresponds more and more to people’s current taste and what a young crowd is looking for sound-wise. This is already happening anyway.

As for live music becoming obsolete? Maybe, as we are more and more active in a virtual world and absent from the real world. I don’t want to see that because I was born in the real world and only use the virtual world to have an extension of what I have experienced in reality. I still belong to the generation attached to reality with real human contacts and real use of my senses, but I am not the future.

You can listen to the Mindscape Podcast below:


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