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Swooshes, Seaboards, Synths & Spawn: BBC Radio 4 Documentary

Dec  26th2020

So excited to have presented ‘Swooshes, Seaboards, Synths & Spawn,’ exploring the changing face of music technology & its effect on our creativity.

First aired on Boxing Day BBC Radio 4 11.30 am Listen Here   


Singer, tech enthusiast and multi-instrumentalist Bishi explores how new technologies and artificial intelligence are shaping the future of music creation.

At the heart of the story, is the unlikely tale of London-based inventor Roland Lamb, superstar producer and recording artist Pharrell Williams and the creation of ROLI, a music tech company at the cutting-edge of expressive music creation.

How did an ex-Buddhist monk end up in business with one of the world's biggest music names? And what does this collaboration tell us about the shape of music-making to come?

We hear Bishi get her hands on some of ROLI's mold-breaking technology - including their tactile silicone Seaboards and modular rainbow synth Blocks. And across London, she's introduced to the extraordinary MI.MU glove, used by pioneering musician and multidisciplinary artist Lula Mehbrahtu, to play with sound, rhythm and voice by physically manipulating the space around her.

We'll find out how these innovations are not just making music more accessible, but transforming the way musicians - from professionals right the way down to total beginners - conceptualise musical creation.

It's not just a question of new toys. Composition and production is also being revolutionised by Artificial Intelligence, with neural networks that can analyse millions of bars of music and catalyse and compose new musical works and sounds at the touch of a button.

So are the machines taking over? Not quite. Vocalist and composer Jennifer Walshe discusses how, instead of replacing the human, these artificial musical brains can help catalyse new frontiers of composition in ways we might never have dreamed of. We also speak to musician Holly Herndon, who has built an AI "baby" - called Spawn - which mimics, interprets and develop Holly's musical ideas, often revealing new elements in her compositions.