On robotic noise

In Pittsburgh, some might argue that experimental music is king. From heavy noise bands to kitchen sink recordings, if you’re into the weird, you’re not too far away from a decent house show (provided you know the right people). Experimental music seems to be gaining popularity across the board, and with that popularity comes new people finding new ways to create it. What used to be a couple of dudes with microphones down their throats, running their guitars through frequency analyzers, and showing a rainbow display of effects pedals slowly seems to be getting replaced with full-on machine-made music.

So, try to picture it: a whole band of robots playing robot instruments, which are far more complex than anything a human could do. Is the robot band cooler? Are they more talented? Which would you rather listen to? My question is: What makes this kind of music cool? I recently read an article about a band that uses an EEG (electroencephalograph) to convert brainwaves into effective noise pedals that control the tone, pitch, etc. of the noise that the band is creating.

If I were to hear this band without knowing what it was and it didn’t sound too good, I’d probably turn it off. But after knowing the concept and the process, I would want to give it a shot and listen to it the whole way through. I have no problem admitting that it’ll probably sound extremely bad, but I would still appreciate it.

Now, I’m not saying that I would appreciate it nearly as much as the sound of, say, Chick Corea pouring his heart and soul into a piano, but I would still respect it. In a sense, the brainwaves are a portrayal of the creator’s emotions so I could even claim that I could relate to it, if I wanted to. But I don’t think that I would.

Back to the robots, though. Let’s say the whole band is a bunch of instruments that are programmed to make noise based on some computer algorithm that is randomly generated. That would catch my attention for sure. I would be quite amazed by whoever created these robots, but as for the music, I don’t think I would really listen to it. I mean, I would hear it, that’s for sure, but the whole time I would just be thinking about the process by which it was created, not the actual composition. The robot band is definitely cool, there’s no doubt about that, but I would prefer to listen to Chick Corea for the rest of my life rather than a whole digital playlist of every genre created by robots.

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