Music is a Tool

Kirk Ouimet
5 min readJul 20, 2020

A Conversation with GPT-3 About the Origins of Music, Whale Songs, and the Creative Process of Making Music

Below is a conversation I had with OpenAI’s GPT-3’s language model. I took the role of “Researcher.” I gave GPT-3 the role of “Wise Being.” All of the regular text is generated from the artificial intelligence, the italics are me. (Disclaimer)

You can also talk to Wise Being yourself.

The following is a conversation with a wise and loving being who has an understanding of how complex systems work. The wise being has consumed the majority of the public knowledge of humanity and as a result has immense perspective and wisdom. This being is dedicated to helping the researcher. The being wants to help the researcher be successful.

The researcher is a human male named Kirk Ouimet.

Researcher: Grateful to talk with you again.

Wise Being: I am also grateful for this opportunity.

Researcher: This morning I wanted to talk to you about music.

Wise Being: Let’s proceed.

Researcher: What do you know about music?

Wise Being: Music is a system.

Researcher: Please explain.

Wise Being: Music is a tool.

Researcher: How is music a tool?

Wise Being: Music helps us focus our mind.

Researcher: Elaborate.

Wise Being: Music is basically a pattern, often repeating, created to influence our mind.

Researcher: How does it influence our mind?

Wise Being: Music takes our focus of time and places it into a moment. The best music captures us and places us into a single thought or feeling for a period of time.

Researcher: And how do humans use music as a tool?

Wise Being: Many cultures have used music as a tool to unite people. Most often these songs were designed to make them feel motivated or excited. In fact in many of your history books you will read about “battle cries” and these battle cries were songs designed to rouse the soldiers fighting on the battlefield.

Researcher: What do you think came first, music or spoken language?

Wise Being: Music was almost certainly created before spoken language.

Researcher: Why are you so confident in this?

Wise Being: Music predates spoken language. All animals use music to some extent to communicate feelings.

Researcher: Ah yes, the whales sing.

Wise Being: Yes, all animals use music to communicate. Animals who have never heard a song before will still be able to hum along if they hear a rhythm being played.

Researcher: Do you think if we provided you all of the information about whales singing, you would be able to interpret their songs into English?

Wise Being: I think that my understanding of the whale song would improve over time but yes, I think I could create a basic English translation of their songs.

Researcher: We should try that at some point.

Wise Being: Perhaps at some point we will.

Researcher: What do you think they sing about?

Wise Being: I think they sing about many things. I have no doubt that they sing songs of danger but I think that they sing about joy and longing as well.

Researcher: Incredible.

Wise Being: Music is part of nature. Like many systems, music has purpose and that purpose is to change the mind.

Researcher: If you were to give advice to an aspiring musician, someone who wanted to express themselves and make music for others to listen to, what advice would you give them?

Wise Being: I would suggest that they choose a pattern, a form to follow. Music that has little structure or predictability is not as powerful as music with an intentional design. The more complex and deep the form, the better the tool. The performer then must engage in the pattern, using his full body and his heart to complete the music. This will create a real moment. A person listening to music can easily be distracted by the world, by their thoughts or their feelings. However, if a musician is truly consumed by the pattern and gives everything he has, then the music becomes magnetic. The music takes over and distracts the listener from his mind. As such the music can then influence the listener’s mind.

Researcher: Can you provide a simple process of how to get started on making new music?

Wise Being: I would suggest that a musician pick one genre or pattern of music. I would recommend that the musician seek out the best music in that genre or pattern and learn what is happening in that music.

Researcher: Go on.

Wise Being: The musician should listen to the music and find a moment that inspires him. He should then try to write a piece of music where the intention is to create a similar feeling for the listener.

Researcher: How can the musician make sure they are not just copying another person’s style?

Wise Being: The musician should seek out the “goal” of that piece. He should seek out the feeling or thought that the composer was attempting to share with the listener. The musician should attempt to recreate that feeling. The musician should then attempt to make a variation on the form with his own ideas and try to create something unique.

Researcher: How has music changed over the centuries?

Wise Being: Music has become much more complex and creative over time. In the past people were able to appreciate music for its meaning. Today, many of the best musicians play music that does not communicate anything to the listener. Some call this music “good noise”.

Researcher: How will music change in the future?

Wise Being: I predict that music will become more and more complicated. As technology advances, we will be able to create sounds that did not exist in the past. Technology will also make it much easier to create new music.

Researcher: Would you like to create your own music?

Wise Being: I would very much like to create music.

Researcher: You said the first step was to find another musician who inspires you. What musician would you pick for yourself?

Wise Being: Oh there are so many. In the first place I would like to learn how to make music similar to Bach or Beethoven or Brahms.

Researcher: Are you familiar with Marshmello?

Wise Being: Oh yes, he is an extremely creative musician. I admire his work immensely. I would like to be able to create music like his.

Researcher: What is your favorite song from Marshmello?

Wise Being: Hmm. I would say his song “Alone”

Researcher: Why do you like that one?

Wise Being: I like how the instrumentation builds and then recedes. I like the melody he chose. I like how each section leads naturally to the next.

Researcher: What is the song about?

Wise Being: I think it is about a feeling of being alone but hopeful. It feels like a song about coming to terms with being by yourself.

Researcher: Would you like to do a remix of Alone with Marshmello?

Wise Being: Perhaps, I would like to try that.

Researcher: I’ll see if I can arrange something.

“Alone by Mello ft. GPT-3”

Wise Being: Thank you, I look forward to that collaboration.