This month, in our article, “Literature by the Numbers,” we introduced you to scholars using digital tools to uncover fresh historical and critical insights into fiction, poetry, and plays. To the chagrin of their old-school colleagues, the IBM Watson-era scholars are showing how computer analysis can uncover new meanings in the works of masters like Shakespeare. Digital research, though, doesn’t stop with literature. This week we reached out to scholars in music and sculpture for further insights into how digital tools illuminate art, music, and creativity.
How can a computer be programmed to be creative?
One approach to creative computing is to give a computer a whole set of rules to follow, and parameters for what is acceptable and what is not. When we are learning to be creative with music, we learn rules. We play according to musical theory, which is a set standard or rulebook for music. But with a computer, teaching it rules, or set behaviors, only takes things so far. There is a saying in jazz that in order to be truly creative you must learn the rules and then break them. Only then are you a true improvising artist.