Etude 1: Poets of Sound and Time

by Andrew Lee

Music 356: Music and AI

Assignment Description
Poem 1: Februrary

This poem is a mixture of Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" and "A Prayer in Spring." Since both poems have a similar form, this blend poem transitions from the winter-themed poem to the spring-themeed poem, reflecting the transition of seasons. The title "Februrary," thus reflects the midpoint between winter and spring.

Original Poems by Robert Frost: Stopping by Woods and Prayer in Spring

~Code for this poem~

Poem 2: Favorites in a Mixer

This is an interactive poem that asks the user a few of their favorite things, and generates a simple, trivial poem that mushes these words together phoenetically. The poem is broken down into four stanzas, where each stanza's first word will serve as the "central word" of that stanza. The title of their poem is the listing of their responses, creating a more personalized poem.

~Code for this poem~


Creating these poems was certainly an fascinating experience. I've seen poems purely written by humans and poems generated by chatGPT, but this is my first time experiencing something partially made by both a human and an AI. It was definitely intriguing, because the way I approached "writing" these poems was a completely new methodology to me. Although I'm not used to writing poems, I'd assume that the common way to do it is to think about some subject, express your opinions on it, think of words and somehow arrange them in a way that shows artistic intention. However, for these etudes, I was dealing with word vectors more than the words themselves. The "meaning" of the words mattered much less, quite unconventional. I felt like I was doing art more with the word vectors than the words.

In terms of the musical part of this etude, I struggled to incorporate the use of the word model. Being a music composer, I didn't want to just use word vectors' values and map them to corresponding pitches or velocities. It felt too random and lazy to me. I couldn't think of other ways to use these values in determining the music though. So instead I determined the set of harmonies to use myself, but I am be interested in seeing what other ideas people came up with in using word vectors to determine the sounds to be played.

I showed my poems to my friends, and got a mix of reactions. One of my friends was very enthusiatic about my poems, saying it was really cool and she wished she could take this class too. Another friend of mine played with my Favorites In a Mixer program and responded with "Interesting...," a feeling with I resonated with at times: "It's kind of cool and weird, but I wouldn't do it again." What I really appreciated from this etude though was the realization that there truly exists a space where humans can use AI to help create, but not replace, art. Rather than seeing AI solely as a threat to replacing artists, now I'm a bit excited about a new domain of art involving humans using AI as a tool to "augment" creativity.