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Over the past 13 years Ergo Phizmiz has created a body of work consisting of hundreds of hours across theatre, songwriting, text, electronic music, collage exhibitions, installations, opera, video and radioplays, that has constantly defied categorization and been performed or broadcast all over the world. Places that have presented Ergo Phizmiz’s work include BBC 6 Music, BBC Radio 3, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Tete a Tete: The Opera Festival, Deutschlandradiokultur, WFMU, Resonance FM, Sonic Arts Network, the Royal Festival Hall and Tate Modern.
Ergo has been a prominent figure in the Creative Commons music world for almost ten years and has given away vast troves of his work online, which has become very popular with video-makers internationally (Youtube alone now features over 1500 videos with Ergo Phizmiz music). He has also composed film and television scores for People Like Us, Christian Marclay, and Frankie Boyle.
What did you like about the process of making music with AI? What parts were interesting?
The idea of endless pieces of music has always appealed to me, the idea that a piece of music can exist in endless permutations and juxtapositions. The formations of structures that grow in generative music, then vanish, raises interesting questions about form and the role of the composing vs the machine in bringing about form. The composer becomes a producer of shards of sounds with some shared characteristics. About halfway through the process of composing this piece, I realized that what I was working with was basically a sequencer, but an invisible time-travel sequencer.
Technologies are evolving faster than ever before and becoming a part of our daily life. Should musicians adapt to these changes and how? What disciplines should they learn to be ready for the industry?
I think musicians (and artists in general) should work with this technology but also against it. I think it’s perhaps more vital than ever that the machine is treated as a tool among other tools. Only those artists are truly apocalypse ready!
In your opinion, how will music be consumed in the near future? How will it be created?
Music will be consumed in tins like canned meat. It will be created by preparing oneself, in a dark room, by serious immobilities.
Co-creating music with AI theoretically makes the algorithm a co-composer. Do you agree with this statement and how do you feel about this? How does this concept work when it comes to royalties and intellectual property?
I absolutely agree that the algorithm is a co-composer and that’s rather wonderful. I’ve always been attracted by compositional approaches that show me new music, new combinations, new approaches, to the ones I would have thought of. Plus I just love the idea of collaborating with a robot. Being now familiar with the interface, if I were to do this again, I would play a lot more with this interaction through the process of composition. In terms of royalty payments and intellectual property, I think probably the sounds are the intellectual property of the human and the pattern or sequence which is passing is the intellectual property of the robot. So the composer gets to keep the sounds but the robot gets to keep the pretty grid.
How has the process of creating music together with AI sparked your creativity? How different was this process compared to the way you usually write music?
It forced me to think in different ways, which is always a good thing. It took me a while to get used to the idea, to get my head around the process. Just the idea of not being able to have, due to the nature of a sequencer such as this, sudden shifts in pacing, rhythm, etc. But other treats were thrown in, in place of this. It became a very interesting process, which has suggested new possibilities for me both in music and also in possibilities for opera and music-theatre.Artist Interviews, Artists, Interviews
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