The Ghost & The Machine
Antfood teamed up with The Mill and Champion Beat Boxer, ReepsOne, to develop a performative AI for South by Southwest 2018.
Our challenge was to help design, build and teach an intelligent AI that could listen, learn from and eventually battle the world’s fastest beatboxer.
Rather than simply create a showcase of Man vs. Machine, we set out to create a performance tool and companion that would be an extension of Reeps' - aka Harry Yeff’s - abilities.
We needed to teach the AI about music, rhythm and performing, with a human.
First, using frequency and transient analysis, we taught the machine to differentiate between the types of sounds that Reeps’, Bass sounds, Snare sounds, ...etc.
Second, Utilizing machine learning, we fed the “Reeplicator” a diet of classic breaks — patterns from hip hop, drum and bass derived from soul and funk — along with reeps’ performances, to build a foundation of rhythmic wisdom that would allow the AI to repeat, respond and improvise.
Then we built out a sophisticated sampler, with 1000s of samples of Reeps’, recorded and arranged logically for the AI to have the same arsenal of “vocal” ability as Harry.
We used our expertise in production, sonics and composition to fine tune and polish the samples and playback mechanism.
And finally we designed a performance system and form that would remain musical and engaging, for both Harry and the audience.
In this day and age, It’s rare to create something new — that has never been done and We’re grateful to Reeps and the incredible team at the Mill for including us, on a journey that is merely the beginning of a new phase of musical performance, composition and experience.