“Grey matter”: The challenge of maintaining harmonic consistency and thematic ambiguity in the age of artificial intelligence

Date created: 
Music composition
Interactive technology
Musical symbolism
Symmetrical harmony
Multichannel electroacoustic

“Grey Matter”, a forty-two minute, 4-movement suite for string quartet and Disklavier (Yamaha’s automated piano), ambiguously explores themes of aging (and the body’s attendant neural/psychic deterioration and social alienation) in the age of automation, digital technology and artificial intelligence. Another thematic layer implies the following questions: will the roles of creative and performing artists become obsolete, like so many other professions are feared to become, with accelerating automation and artificial intelligence? Is technology bestowing upon us a utopian or dystopian future? Conceived with symmetrical harmonic processes, the work layers and juxtaposes sequentially diminishing harmonies (and diminishing performance personnel) with contrapuntal procedures. Alluding to a wide range of historical sources as disparate as Joseph Haydn, Robert Schumann, Béla Bartók, Charlie Chaplin, Kurt Vonnegut, Lee “Scratch” Perry and Spike Jonze, “Grey Matter” culminates with a collage of Bachian and Lisztian materials feeding back and reverberating through circular 4-channel electroacoustic diffusion.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes. Copyright remains with the author.
Senior supervisor: 
Arne Eigenfeldt
Communication, Art & Technology: School for the Contemporary Arts
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.F.A.