Guitar Lessons by Chip McDonald - April 2023

Thursday, April 6, 2023

That Time They Made Dark Side of the Moon New Coke

(... a warning to my guitar lesson students: if you bring this subject up be prepared for a whorling vortex of invective against this release.  I have not listened beyond the first 4 bars of "Breathe"; there is no point.  My vexation by this has ruined my day, and is probably only matched by my opinions about the abominations known as "Star Wars Episodes VII, VII and IX")

Gahr.  Someone decided to "make better" what is probably the closest to a perfect record that has ever been made?

It's of course, much louder.  Which in the 21st century means "better".

In doing this, they've changed the nature of the way the volume peaks change, and the way the low end sounds dynamically, and the tonal balance shifts around as the compression messes with it.

The way the volume peaks from the screaming intro is faster now. *The rate of which that occurs - which I presume came from Alan Parson's hand - is now different*.

The bass doesn't decay correctly.  The quarter notes previously poked out and then faded PERFECTLY.  IMO, this is one of the most important Pink Floyd signatures.  I remember that as a kid hearing it, *in my memory* it's a significant effect: boom BOOM baboom BOOooomm BOOM BOOM booboom...



Likewise, the guitar strums are squashed down.  Despite the overall level being louder, the initial attack character of the guitar is gone.  The opening Em add9 is the OPENING SIGNATURE TO THE ALBUM.  It washes into the track.

 Now you have to "squint" as you listen to hear it at the start.  

And because of the overall level now being a completely different LUFS value, the entire vibe has been affected.  The pulse (ironic) of the low end is different.  The bass has to throb, the guitar has to have a "tinkly" effect - and level balanced to the bass (which it no longer is thanks to limiting/compression).  


 I'm sure a lot of Monet paintings could be "made better" by color correcting sky tones, making the reds pop out more, maybe make some of the orientation more 16:9 friendly.  

Ahrgh.   #Ihatethe21stcentury.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Post AGI, Guitar and Art: Are You Tired of the Over Impressive Gimmick Yet?

  The end of human civilization, thousands of different ways?

 Eventually, "soon", there will be a robot that plays guitar solos.  Anyone want to take a bet?  Maybe even "rotoscoped" from video.  

 There is no reason it won't happen.  

Fake A.I. Prompted Image I Made Using DALL E

 What does that mean for the human pursuit of technical, kinesthetic facility?

 Nothing.  It will turn off a lot of people.  It will diminish the social perspective on another human accomplishment.  Will that change what you do, musically?

 It makes no difference to me.  I will continue to play guitar, and try to create what's in my head, a potpourri of different influences.  Influences that can be turned into a prompt for a LLM (large language model) like ChatGPT4, coupled to some sort of a GAN/ML audio generating system.  

 Except, making a prompt for a future LLM that will output exactly what I want will NOT be exactly what I want.  The detail required is redundant; I may as well do it myself.

 What I look forward to will be better SOUNDING tools, that are easier to deal with.  There will be "Engineer Mr. Scott from Star Trek" creators, directing a.i. to output art.  Which will be as fanciful and overblown as what we see today.

 Unfortunately for talented painters, illustrators, a.i. text prompts are cranking out Epic Landscapes like Doritos in a bag. It's gotten kind of boring, hasn't it?  For myself it has; I see people are still enthralled by endless comic book "kinesthetic super power display" movies, maybe it's no different?  

 I'm still as interested in French impressionism.  I still want to go see Monet, Renoir paintings in real life.  Am I imagining a subtle quality that I think I see, the human not in the machine?

 I don't think so.

 There is a difference between the Immediate Presentation - the first sip of Mountain Dew, versus the gestalt of it.  Don't we all know we're looking at something artificial, when viewing whatever Amazing Visual a.i. cranks out?

 Music seems to be lagging the visual.  It's way further along than most people realize, but it's just barely dipping it's toe in the Uncanny Valley.  But it will come out the other side eventually, soon.  

 But again, I doubt something will come out that affects everyone, universally, the way McCartney's "Yesterday" does, or Bach's "Air on the G String" does.  

 Not at first.

 The thing I don't look forward to is when some sociopath decides to train outputs based on human reinforced alignment from an emotion standpoint.  Because it's going to happen, and not for the right reasons.  Visuals, video, music, that is designed to affect humans emotionally. 

 Perhaps to a degree we're not prepared for.  This could be just one a.i. apocalypse scenario.  That sounds overblown if you're not aware of where the technology is already, but just consider the ramifications of such a thing.  The perfect car commercial, video and music that is subtly affecting you.  Or things in social media affecting in ways you're not aware of.  

 If we survive that, what's left is being intrinsically unique as a human.  What can you do that makes you a human?  Skillsets you have decided upon.  Accomplishments that you have bothered to do, from your will power.  Because at that moment, what I think we see now as the YouTube Effect - a futility based on being overwhelmed - will seemingly cover everything.

 We'll have to either try to be immune to it - reject seeing or listening to any media, lest we be swayed by the a.i. - or push past it *despite* it.   Or do we turn into non-emotional, grey aliens in a 100 years?  

 You are the sum of your experiences, trained in reality. Learning to appreciate music, guitar playing, is something an a.i. cannot do, because it will never have the context of being a human.