Synchronizing rhythms

When discussing the example of the tabla player, who could change any delay into a different beat, van Splunter emphasizes the fact that the tabla player can hear the rhythm, where computers do not have such sensorial capabilities unless they are told to have it.

If you have an experienced tabla player, who is used to improvising, he listens to the rhythm and adapts his interactions. If you have a group, also as a group they have their interactions. You need some kind of roles in such improvisation or adaptation processes. If everybody starts adapting at the same time, maybe something new is created, but it also might be too much change at the same time ruining the music, argues van Splunter.

The problem of synchronizing rhythms between human beings and machines is even deeper, according to van Splunter. Human beings can relate to a tabla player, a human tabla player, by assuming that his experience of the world is similar to theirs. “We can hear his music and even though we might not understand the rhythm as good as he does, we have a sense of it. To create this effect with computers we have to create their sensory environment and which is really difficult. Talking to the tabla player, you can explain at least to some level, how he experiences, how he feels. You can say, he has an aggressive rhythm. For a computer, something like ‘aggressive’ is hard to relate to.” Van Splunter argues that the “body” of a computer consists of hardware like a CPU and a hard disk. But, argues Nevejan, the tabla player consists of 70% water so maybe we could argue that because of their capabilities computers have gone into a different realm of beings. Van Splunter agrees this is a nice philosophical statement, but argues that for human beings it is hard to know what that entity is for a computer. It is hard to know how much that entity is formed by our own projections and attributions, compared to what this entity actually is. This makes it hard for humans and computers to relate.