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December 04, 2023

Music Theory

By Ethan Goffman

I was a musician crafting ethereal, intricate music upon a harp in an amphitheater beneath a pink sky. In the midst of an especially complex stream of notes, I realized something. I knew nothing about music theory, only vaguely understood the difference between melody and harmony, couldn’t read music, and didn’t even know how to position my hands. Yet astounding music was flowing from me, a grand symphony that filled the day until the sun sank into obscurity. Finally, at the last note, a vast audience clapped and clapped.

I realized that my author, whoever was writing me into being, knew nothing about music. He, she, they, or it was composing words endowing me with life, breath, and majestic artistry. Yet it was a shell. Was I the ultimate con artist? No, I was simply following instructions that I had no choice about. And the author was simply doing what authors have done for thousands of years.

Although, come to think of it, Homer actually was able to play a lute as he breathed the flow of life into Achilles, Hector, Odysseus, Athena, a rich flock of gods, heroes, monsters, and flawed human beings. Perhaps Homer was a rarity, an authentic artist. Or perhaps only the ancients were the authentics, while we in modern times are posers in a society so complex that we can’t begin to understand it. In any case, AI will soon be creating all the music, art, and literature and we can just relax and be entertained. Will that make AI the ultimate poser? Or the only authentic voice?

Article © Ethan Goffman. All rights reserved.
Published on 2023-10-23
Image(s) are public domain.
3 Reader Comments
01:02:14 PM
Very nice and deeply thoughtful story!!
03:07:22 PM
04:21:27 PM
I rode your words like a log in a torrent from reality to unreaity and back again. Know that whatever dimension is mine to inhabit, I hope never to concede to AI the place you hint might be coming.
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