Robots/computers can vacuum our floors (hello, little Roomba!), mix fancy drinks for us, and can drive our cars. On assembly lines, robots complete tasks more efficiently and more consistently than we ever could as a species. They can even create abstract works of art and write newspaper articles.
I've often wondered what the limit is:
Where is the threshold for what humans can do pretty well, but computers still can't do at all?
Last month, I discovered one possible answer: composing music.
Just before Christmas, a sound clip of the first computer-composed Christmas carol was released. This computer was fed hundreds of hours of traditional Christmas carols which it analyzed, decomposed, pulled the most common elements from, and then used to synthesize something completely original.
Here it is - take a listen:
It's AWFUL. I'm pretty sure some of the youngest students I teach, who have very little experience in music, could come up with something better. Especially those lyrics. Yikes.
A computer can try and combine the most popular elements of existing songs - basically pulling from a huge resource bank, larger than any human would have access to - but can it really push the boundaries of music? Can a computer be daring? Can a computer take creative risks? At this point, I would venture that they cannot.
Humans, however, can. My husband (@christheij) is a music teacher. Recently, while looking for new choir music for the spring season, he found this gem by Katerina Gimon. Take a listen - it's well worth it.