Demo Day 2023: AI - The Musician’s View

Demo Day 2023: AI - The Musician’s View

7th March 2023
This year’s Abbey Road Red Demo Day ended with a short Q&A with Damon Minchella, founding bassist of Ocean Colour Scene who achieved five top 10 albums, 20 top 10 singles and, as a seasoned musician and producer has played with The Who, Amy Winehouse, Paul Weller and many more.

In perhaps our favourite fact, Minchella was a member of the supergroup The Smokin’ Mojo Filters alongside Sir Paul McCartney and Paul Weller when they recorded a version of Come Together for the War Child charity record HELP in 1995 in Studio Two, the site of our Demo Day.

Damon is an advisor to DAACI and shared some of his experiences informed by working with AI and building a tool for musicians, which we’ve summarised below:
Photos by Carsten Windhorst
  1. Analysing our own creativity.

    Using assistive composition tools has led Minchella to analyse his own approach to creativity, evaluate it and improve it. The benefit is completely decoupled from the tools themselves; working with them and thinking about how to develop their features has, via introspection, helped him understand himself better as an artist. Minchella found he was better able to identify his strengths and weaknesses, where he can improve and how to enhance his creativity.

    2. Production articulation.

    The same goes for articulating production, the process of getting sounds out of your head and describing them precisely from a band or orchestral point of view. While working on how a compositive tool approaches orchestration and how its rules and logic decisions are codified, Minchella systematically enhanced his own precision in imagining and articulating his own soundbeds. Another case of self-analysis and improvement that remains with the artist independent of the technology.

    3. Co-writing.

    Assistive composition tools can help provide a creative spark for co-writers. If two or more writers are stuck in a writing session, they can brief a tool to give them some inspiration that gets their own creative energy and collaboration going, taking it on from that point themselves, and again with the final output decoupled from the tech and written by them.

    4. The intended freedom of choice.

    If done right these tools should be optional, lean-in and be driven by a creative human hand. You can drop it any time. And it should encourage you to be more experimental.
As an example of this experimental creativity, Minchella recounted Prince’s use of the LinnDrum and what is now one of the most famous drum sounds in the world, which started as a hand clap:

“…it sounds like a ping pong ball, it’s one of the most iconic snare sounds in the world. What you don’t know is that it comes from a hand clap recorded by Roger Linn. Prince then slowed the velocity and tempo down and created a new snare drum sound. He wasn’t scared of technology, instead he thought ‘what can I do with this to make it sound weird and use my creative humanity’.”

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