The last two posts on the #EUreferendum weren’t really what I wanted to write about. But the things that are really exciting me right now needed to be put off a bit because they don’t happen for another month or so. And I didn’t really want to bang on about them for a full two months.
Finally, though, I can get some release. With respect to one of these events, at least.
The Edinburgh International Science Festival runs from 26 March-10 April. The programme is here, and it features all sorts of interesting stuff, like A Short History of the Cocktail and A Very Short Introduction to Forensic… Science. And … Evolution.
The band I’m in, Nerd Bait, had the good fortune to be involved in Illicit Ink‘s production for last year’s Science Festival, Apollo 21. It was about a British pirate moon shot in the early ‘seventies, led by Tara Beckett. I which I played the spacey partner of the awesome heroine.
This year, Illicit Ink’s Sci-Fest bit is Linnaean Limbo: The Dinosaurs that Never Were. In a story-telling show blending theatre, palaeontology and the history of science – it says here – Linnaean Limbo addresses
a new form of extinction through reclassification and repudiation… by staging a whimsical afterlife for things that never were.
The prompt of writing for a defunct dino was a great one for the band, and we’ve done something entirely new for us. The Prof and Science Steph have hit new new heights of composition and performance…
In fifteen minutes of madness, they cover hymns and hip-hop, rock and religion, and everything in between.
I’m striking out a bit, too. Since the #stroke-y mini-musical of The Treacherous Brain, I’ve written musical books of brain injury and the redemptive power of love, aphasia and the redemptive power of
booze love, space travel and the redemptive power of Mr Benn love, and being a merman and the redemptive power of the Loch Ness Monster love.
This time, let’s just say my reading of The King James Bible hasn’t been entirely for leisure purposes. King David laid down some pretty good lyrics, y’know.
So, Unicerosaurus is ambitious, stroke-free, and fresh. Three years down the road of recovery, that feels great. But emotional and brain-related considerations are never far from the surface. While Nerd Bait were using their brains to create their latest bit, The Daily Telegraph was asking, “Can a computer write a hit musical?”
Can a Computer Write a Hit Musical? is full of interesting stuff for our little Hamilton-obsessed group. For example, the article notes that “[i]n recent years it’s been proved that computers can produce a passable imitation of a Baroque sonata, a form that Baroque composers turned out by rote,” and asks If computers can master the formula for a Baroque sonata, why for a musical? After all, a group in Cambridge were working on story analysis, and they figured out a kind-of formula whereby a successful musical was likely to have “a moment of setback and tension in the second act, and the first act has to end on a high.”
Analysts in Madrid used an even more sophisticated analysis to work out that there was an ideal 10-part narrative structure that encompasses a beginning of “aspiration”, moves on to “decision to take action”, and proceeds via “loss of loved ones” and “struggle” to “resolution”.
A musical written by a computer, eh? Just the sort of thing to appeal to a group of two scientists by training, and one gentleman scientist.
Look, I’ve got a Master of Science degree in Creative Writing, OK?!
So I’m pleased to report that the conclusion of Ivan Hewett’s Telegraph article and Cat Gale’s Sky Arts documentary seems to be Yes, a computer can write a successful musical. And I’m even more happy to relate that the answer is also No, a computer can’t write a successful musical. It’s just a tool for now, by my interpretation.
Or, at least, it would take a malfunctioning, paranoid computer to write Unicerosaurus. Or at least one who’d had a stroke.
We look forward to sharing it with you.