I’ve mentioned RandomBus before, but you might want to check it out again now …

You’ve probably heard me talk about my bot RandomBus that tweets random Audiobus set ups on an hourly basis. You may have checked it out and found it amusing, or useful or maybe you’ve never even heard of it.

Well I’ve made it a bit more useful now. RandomBus will now reply to you on twitter if you tweet it. At the moment it has a fairly narrow range of replies, but I think you might find them useful. As this is my first attempt at interactivity with a bot I’ve limited RandomBus’ responses to suggesting apps to you for now. Basically the bot can now suggest an app to you in a variety of categories such as, synth apps, bass apps, drum app, and FX. If you tweet it something it doesn’t understand it’ll let you know too.

So why not give it a try? Just tweet @RandomBus and say “Hello” to it, see what happens next.

As I mentioned, this is a start for adding interactivity to this bot, I’ve got more plans for it, but if you can think of any other interactive elements you think I should add, then please let me know.

The bots aren’t just coming, they’ve arrived! Some thoughts from ArtofBots

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I posted about Bots before. I think that they’re really interesting and could be creatively useful and even inspiring both in and with music making apps.

Well just to prove a point, here’s a real life example of bots doing just that. The photo above was taken at the AND (Abandon Normal Devices) show ‘Art of Bots’. It was a small event at Somerset house that showcased a range of creatively focussed bots and also featured a little bot making workshop too.

From my perspective the most interesting bot was the @graphicscorebot which tweets randomised musical scores once an hour. The bot was created by Emma, who you might remember from my post about her recent live show.

At this event Emma was improvising for about 8 hours each day for the two days of the event as directed by the bot. Not the easiest thing to do in my opinion, but it was really good.

And you can hear a little bit of the output right here:

This is what Emma has to say about it:

“A recording of some of the live improvisation (of which there was 16 hours in total!) prompted by emmawinston.me/graphicscorebotlive/temporal, which was premiered at Abandon Normal Devices’ The Art of Bots from the 15th to 16th of April.

Performers are Emma Winston (the bot’s creator), Dan Mayfield, and Mark Williamson, all playing various synths and other devices. This was recorded live on an iPad mini and roughly mastered in Ableton, so the quality is not wonderful, but I hope you enjoy it anyway! You can learn more about GraphicScoreBot at emmawinston.me/graphicscorebot, see it on Twitter at twitter.com/graphicscorebot, and download the open-source code to tinker with yourself at github.com/emmawinston/graphicscorebotlive.

By their nature, the scores are generated on the fly and have infinite variations, so it’s unfortunately not possible to show you exactly what we were playing from at the time.”

I think it shows that there are some really interesting potential applications for bots in the creative world and that it isn’t something that should be confined to facebook messenger and chat bots.

It has also given me a couple of new ideas for my own bot, @RandomBus, which tweets random audiobus set ups every hour. But more of that soon, or possibly not so soon depending on how my ideas pan out.

I need to also add that there were a range of other bots on show, many of which were very cool indeed, but I’ve chosen to focus on @graphicscorebot here. If you’re interested in finding out more about the others on show then check out the event page here.

I’m really interested to hear how anyone else is using bots in creative music, so if you’re doing that, or if you have ideas, please do get in touch.

The bots are coming! So what does it mean for mobile music?

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So you may well have noticed that bots are big. Facebook announced this week their new messenger platform, and that means bots, and bots are big. Microsoft’s CEO has said that bots are the new apps. I’m not sure about that entirely, but I do think that bots will be big, possibly not as big as apps have been, but they’re going to make a difference, that’s for sure.

Of course bots are not new. We have them now for music, but not necessarily inside music making apps. Some of you may know ‘Graphic Score Bot‘, which is a twitter bot run by my friend Deerful (remember my review of her gig? And she’s a part of School of Noise too). Her Graphic Score Bot will be demonstrated at Abandon Normal Devices this weekend and I’m sure it’ll be fun. Come along if you can drag yourself away from record store day anyway. I’m planning to be there too.

There’s my RandomBus bot too, which you’ve almost certainly heard of too. It suggests random Audiobus setups for you. But twitter bots like these are just the tip of the iceberg and of course they don’t integrate directly into your mobile music apps do they.

With bots coming to messenger what will it mean for mobile music, and how could they make creating music better?

I think that there are a lot of ways actually, but two things immediately jump out at me. These are:

  1. How musical bots can be integrated into existing platforms, Messenger for a start and others as there will certainly be others
  2. How musical bots can become a natural part of existing apps

Let’s start with the first one, musical bots inside of of platforms like Messenger. How would that work then? I’ve got some ideas but first I’d like to address why this is important as you might be thinking “Why bother?“, and that’s a very reasonable question to ask.

So let’s list out the reasons why it would be good to get some little musical bots into Messenger …

  • Messenger has around 900 million users. When bots start to appear there’ll be a lot of users who want to try them out.
  • Whilst lots of these initial bots will be about news and providing services, but, at its core Messenger is about communicating, and not just communicating with text but in lots of other engaging ways. That’s why there’s emoji, stickers etc. Sound and music is a natural extension.
  • If a handful of musical bots can capture the imagination of Messenger users then it could spark an interest in some of the excellent ‘casual‘ music making apps that are on iOS.

So, to summarise, the proposition is simple, get people interested in making music through a popular messaging platform. Makes sense? Ok, you may or may not agree with me so far, but consider some of the possibilities …

How about these …

  • Imagine having Wotja (the excellent app from Intermorphic) inside Messenger, so you could not only communicate with text, but send that as a tiny piece of music too?
  • In fact, I can see a lot of text to sound / music applications, perhaps genre based, perhaps instrument based, such as something that turns your text into beats?
  • Or how about, when sending images, you could have a bot that converts your images to sound at the same time. I think that could be really awesome, or is it just me who thinks that?

Actually I think that there are loads more possibilities and I’m sure that whatever people come up (and I really really hope that they do) I’m sure that they’ll be truly inventive.

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Moving on to the my next bot topic then … Bots in music apps …

This is possibly a more difficult subject. I’m not sure that there’s anything quite like a bot inside a current music app. Sure there are features in apps like randomisation, and it works very well in apps like Mixtikl and Elastic Drums, but these are randomisation options and not anything like an AI type option inside an app. However, I think that this sort of thing could work, and work well too.

Let’s imagine for a moment that you had something like RandomBus sitting inside Audiobus itself? Or, if you could have Graphic Score Bot inside an app to make useful suggestions when you’re struggling with a lack of inspiration? I think that concepts like this could work well in a whole host of apps, a bit like having a Siri inside your app that helps you to make music when you’re a bit stuck.

Personally I don’t find this problematic at all. I mean, we already have a bunch of apps that make music creation easier and there’s nothing wrong with that at all, in fact it’s a massive plus for mobile music in that it helps to engage people’s creativity. I think bots could be a fantastic extension to that and could have the potential to draw more people into making music and in even more fun ways.

So that’s my take on bots, for now anyway. I’d like to see how things develop with Messenger, and on other platforms too. But more than that I’d like to hear your views too.

Let me know what you think.

 

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