Imaginary Miles

Since 2015, musebots have permeated all of my metacreative work. Version 1 spec is here; version 2 spec is here.

Here are a few highlights.

Imaginary Miles: Modeling Musebots after an Imagined Miles Davis Ensemble

Filles De Kilimanjaro was recorded in 1968, and a landmark transition album between Miles’ second quintet and his electric period. It featured members of his second ensemble playing electric instruments (Herbie Hancock on Fender Rhodes, Ron Carter on electric bass), as well as new members (Chick Corea). The following year (1969), he released In a Silent Way, one of his most influential albums. The latter is considered his first electric album, and included a young English guitarist, John McLaughlin.

Imaginary Miles models individual musebots after these musicians: Miles (non-electric,  muted trumpet); Wayne Shorter (tenor sax); John McLaughlin (electric guitar, but more Mahavishnu); Chick Corea (mini-moog, but circa Return to Forever); Herbie Hancock (electric piano); Ron Carter (electric bass); Tony William (drums).

A musebot generates an overall structure (intro, head, solos, head, outro), in the same way the musicians might agree upon such a structure before they begin. A 16-bar chord progression is generated by another musebot, based upon selected Miles Davis and Wayne Shorter compositions from that period. A head (melody) is generated from these works as well.

Musebots “listen” to each other (actually, they communicate what they are doing through messages, thus not requiring other musebots to analyze audio). They have individual desires and intentions (for example, how active they want to be and become), but balance these in relation to other musebots. The soloists take turns soloing, patiently and politely waiting for an opening; each musebot has a personality attribute of patience/impatience (how long to wait before wanting to solo), politeness/rude (how willing it is to interrupt another soloing musebot), ego (how long it wants to continue soloing).

The HerbieBOT on piano listens to the soloist, and responds by either filling in holes through chordal comping, or echoing individual notes it just heard.

Acknowledgements: This work has its genesis in a code-jam in Byron Bay, December 2017, with fellow musebot coders Andrew Brown, Matthew Horrigan, Toby Gifford, and Daniel Field, where we came up with the ideas surrounding listening and turn-taking.