Can a neural network trained on John Coltrane’s jazz make a good album? Dadabots gave it a try with ‘Outerhelios’.
We’ve heard people say jazz is dead countless times in the past but we’ve refuted it before and we’ll continue to do so. Jazz fusion in the 60s and 70s caused a lot of controversy with its use of rock music and technology to create unique sounds. But could AI-generated jazz be the next step for the genre to evolve again?
‘Outerhelios’ is a free jazz project by Dadabots, a collaboration between musicians CJ Carr and Zack Zukowski. It originally started as a 24/7 stream and involved training a neural network on John Coltrane’s 1967 album, ‘Interstellar Space’, and streaming it continuously.
Despite the fact the music is free jazz, Outerhelios takes a lot of inspiration from generative music whereby the album never repeats itself. Because of that, you get moments of believable jazz followed by moments of incoherence. That’s the nature of AI-generated jazz – there’s no feeling or purpose besides what’s programmed.
Will AI-generated jazz take over? Unlikely, at least in this form. Jazz isn’t difficult to create and costs as much as you want it to. But it’s interesting to see what machine learning can do for composition.
You can listen to 10 hours of the original Outerhelios stream below.