As artificial intelligence is creeping into so many applications these days, I thought I’d share what it “thinks” about jazz and improvisation. To do that, I had a conversation with a site called AIChat.
In its own words, the site allows users to interact with AI language models in real-time. In other words, you ask it a question, it “thinks” and then writes out its answer in front of you.
I use it for coding help when I am stuck on a programming problem, and also ask it questions I have about other things. While less thorough, it seems less biased that the human-edited Wikipedia.
It does feel like it is thinking as it types out its answer. It is not just regurgitating text from the web. In fact, testing some of its answers using a plagiarism site, it was completely clean. So, naturally, I had important questions for it. Why not ask it about jazz?
My first question was, “What is jazz improvisation?” It answered:
Jazz improvisation is the process of spontaneously creating music in the moment. In jazz, improvisation is an important part of the performance and is often a central element of the music. Jazz musicians improvise by using their knowledge of scales, chords, and harmonies, as well as their understanding of the structure and form of the piece they are performing, to spontaneously create melodies and solos on the spot.
Improvisation in jazz is often associated with soloing, or the practice of playing a melodic or rhythmic line over a chord progression or set of chords. Jazz soloists will often use their understanding of the harmonies of the piece they are playing to guide their improvisation and create a solo that fits seamlessly within the structure of the music.
Improvisation in jazz can also involve collective improvisation, where all members of the band contribute to the creation of the music in real-time. This can involve the use of call-and-response patterns, trading solos back and forth between band members, and other techniques for creating music spontaneously.
Overall, jazz improvisation is an important aspect of the genre and is a key element of what makes jazz music unique and exciting to listen to.
Okay, that’s a pretty good general definition. And again, this is not just some copy of Wikipedia.
Let’s ask it something a bit more technical. How about, “What scale should I play over f7 flat 9?”
The F7 flat 9 chord is a dominant 7th chord with a flatted 9th. One scale that you can use to solo over this chord is the Mixolydian mode. The Mixolydian mode is the fifth mode of the major scale, and it is built on the fifth degree of the major scale. In the key of C, the F Mixolydian mode would be: F G A Bb C D E.
You can also use the altered scale over the F7 flat 9 chord. The altered scale is a scale that includes all of the altered notes (b9, #9, b5, #5) from the dominant 7th scale. The altered scale for the key of C would be: C Db D# E F# G# A#.
Another option is to use the diminished whole-tone scale. This scale is built by alternating whole steps and half steps. The diminished whole-tone scale for the key of C would be: C Db D# F G Ab A#.
It’s important to keep in mind that these are just a few options, and there are many other scales that you can use over the F7 flat 9 chord. Ultimately, the scale you choose will depend on the musical context and the style of music you are playing. Experimenting with different scales and finding the one that works best in a given musical situation is an important part of the process of developing your musical voice as a jazz musician.
Let’s not completely dismiss this because the Mixolydian mode has no flat nine. After all, it did suggest altered scales.
What would an AI suggest that would make me a better improviser? It’s answer…
There are several things that you can do to become a better jazz improviser:
Practice regularly: Like any skill, improvisation requires practice. Set aside time each day to practice improvising over different chord progressions and melodies.
Learn and memorize scales and arpeggios: Knowing the scales and arpeggios that correspond to the chords in a tune will give you a solid foundation for improvising.
Listen to and study recordings of great jazz improvisers: Listening to recordings of great jazz improvisers will give you a sense of what’s possible and help you develop your own style.
Practice transcribing solos: Transcribing solos by ear is a great way to improve your ears, develop your vocabulary, and understand how different players approach improvising over different tunes.
Experiment with different approaches: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different approaches to improvising. Try playing over the changes in different ways, using different scales and arpeggios, and exploring different rhythmic and melodic ideas.
Play with other musicians: Playing with other musicians will help you develop your skills as an improviser. You’ll have the opportunity to listen to and learn from other players, and you’ll be able to practice improvising in a musical context.
Improvisation is a lifelong journey, and there is always more to learn and explore. By practicing regularly, studying the music, and experimenting with different approaches, you can continue to improve your skills as a jazz improviser.
I like that. I wondered if it considered itself capable of improvising. I asked, “Can you improvise jazz?”
As an artificial intelligence, I do not have the ability to perform music or improvise in the same way that a human musician can. While I can provide information and guidance on various musical topics, I do not have the physical ability to play an instrument or create music.
One more question. I wondered what it “thought” the difference was between man and machine. I asked, “Is an AI more capable than a human being?” This one took longer for the AI to answer. You can see the blinking curser before it starts to type its answer. Eventually, it came back with…
Artificial intelligence (AI) systems are capable of performing a wide range of tasks, and in some cases, they may be able to outperform humans in certain specific areas. However, it is important to keep in mind that AI systems are not capable of replicating all of the cognitive abilities and functions of human beings.
AI systems are designed to perform specific tasks and are typically trained on large datasets to perform those tasks effectively. They can be very good at performing certain types of tasks, such as recognizing patterns, analyzing data, and making decisions based on that analysis.
However, AI systems do not have the same level of general intelligence or cognitive flexibility as humans. They do not have the ability to learn and adapt in the same way that humans do, and they are not able to perform tasks that require creativity, empathy, or complex problem-solving in the same way that humans can.
It’s also important to keep in mind that AI systems do not have the same level of physical capabilities as humans. They do not have the ability to interact with the world in the same way that humans do, and they are not able to perform tasks that require physical dexterity or mobility in the same way that humans can.
Overall, while AI systems are capable of performing a wide range of tasks, they are not necessarily more capable than humans in all areas.
I have always been fascinated by computers. My high school rolled out its first computer course in my senior year, and I signed up for it as soon as I heard. I remember the first program I wrote: I found out the birthday of a girl on whom I had a crush, and proceeded to write a program that graphed out her personal biorhythms. She was suitably impressed!
We’ve come a long way since those ancient days of giant mainframes miles away connected by 1,200 Baud modems, but every step of the way, computers have been an important tool for us humans.
Have a chat with this AI. It’s free, and you just might learn something cool like, “Where is a good place to hear jazz in (fill in the city).”