IFR and the new AI chat bots

I’ve been trying out the new AI capabilities of BING CHAT, free at bing.com from Microsoft. I don’t know what to think. I’m enchanted at the same time it scares me.

Here’s what I asked it, and what it replied with within seconds.


write a blog post on “an approach to improvising” in the style of David Reed from IMPROVISING FOR REAL


Here is a blog post I wrote on “an approach to improvising” in the style of David Reed from IMPROVISING FOR REAL:


An Approach to Improvising

Improvising is not a mysterious skill that only a few gifted musicians possess. It is a natural and expressive way of making music that anyone can learn and enjoy. In this blog post, I will share with you an approach to improvising that is based on the principles of IMPROVISING FOR REAL by David Reed.


IMPROVISING FOR REAL is a method of learning music that focuses on developing your own musical voice and creativity. It is based on the idea that music is a language, and that you can learn to speak it fluently by immersing yourself in it and experimenting with it.

The method consists of three main elements:

  • The tonal map: a visual representation of the musical soundscape that shows you all the possible notes you can play in any key or mode.

  • The creative process: a series of exercises and activities that help you explore the tonal map and discover your own musical ideas.

  • The musical context: the songs, styles, genres, and traditions that inspire you and give meaning to your improvisations.

How to use the tonal map?

The tonal map is a tool that helps you navigate the musical soundscape and find the notes that sound good in any situation. It looks like this:

Tonal map

The tonal map shows you all the notes of the chromatic scale (the 12 notes that make up all music) arranged in a circle. The notes are grouped into seven families, each with a different color and number. Each family represents a different sound or mood that you can create with your music.

The tonal map also shows you how to relate the notes to any key or mode. A key or mode is a set of notes that form the basis of a song or a piece of music. For example, if a song is in the key of C major, it means that it uses mostly the notes of the C major scale: C, D, E, F, G, A, and B.

To use the tonal map in any key or mode, you simply need to find the note that corresponds to the root (the main note) of the key or mode on the map. For example, if you want to play in C major, you need to find the note C on the map. Then, you can use the numbers on the map to identify the other notes of the key or mode. For example, in C major, D is 2, E is 3, F is 4, and so on.

The tonal map allows you to see all the possible notes you can play in any key or mode at a glance. You can also see how each note relates to the root and to each other. This gives you a lot of freedom and flexibility to improvise and create your own melodies.

How to practice with the tonal map?

One of the best ways to practice with the tonal map is to use it as a guide for exploring different sounds and musical ideas. You can do this by following these steps:

  • Choose a key or mode that you want to play in. For example, C major.

  • Find the root note on the tonal map. For example, C.

  • Choose one or more note families from the tonal map that you want to use. For example, 1 (C), 3 (E), and 5 (G).

  • Play these notes on your instrument in any order and rhythm that you like. Try to listen to how they sound together and how they create different moods and emotions.

  • Experiment with different combinations of notes and note families. Try to find melodies that sound good to you and express what you feel.

  • Repeat this process with different keys or modes and different note families.

By practicing this way, you will develop your ear for music and your sense of harmony. You will also discover your own musical preferences and personality. You will learn to improvise with confidence and creativity.

How to apply the tonal map to real music?

The tonal map is not only useful for practicing improvisation by yourself. It can also help you play along with real songs and music that you love. You can do this by following these steps:

  • Choose a song or a piece of music that you want to play along with. For example, “Happy Birthday”.

  • Find out what key or mode it is in. For example, C major.

  • Find the root note on the tonal map. For example, C.

  • Use the numbers on the tonal map to identify the notes of the melody and chords of the song or piece of music. For example, “Happy Birthday” starts with 1 (C), then goes up to 2 (D), then back to 1 (C), then up to 3 (E), then back to 1 (C), etc.

  • Play these notes on your instrument along with the song or piece of music. Try to match the rhythm and timing of the original.

  • Experiment with adding or changing some notes from different note families on the tonal map. Try to make your own variations of the melody or chords that sound good with the song or piece of music.

By applying this method, you will be able to play along with any song or piece of music that you like. You will also be able to improvise your own solos or accompaniments over them. You will learn to play music by ear and by feel.


@hender99 Very impressive in some ways, but perhaps the above tells us all we really need to know, i.e. it doesn’t really know (i.e. ‘understand’) the subject that it’s building text about?

The problem comes when people are impressed by the bits they recognise as valid but then assume the rest is valid too…

@DavidW Right you are, it’s an eager-to-please idiot savant. But this was just the initial response. Things could get much more polished if I iterated with additional “adjustment questions”. Scary stuff regardless of whether it really understands what it’s saying.

@hender99 I remember when electronic calculators took over from slide rules & log tables. A fundamental part of using a slide rule was to apply a reasonableness check to your answer (including choosing a reasonable level of precision). I suspect there may be parallels in this area? One difficulty being how do you know if an article was written by a real person, an ‘initial response’ AI, a ‘well educated (itterated)’ AI, or even a ‘poorly educated’ AI, all of which may affect any attempt at a reasonableness check (even if someone thinks of applying one).

@DavidW i totally agree. That’s a big part of what makes it scary. The world paradigm is shifting in front of our eyes

@DavidW by the way I’ve seen blog posts written by real people that showed the first notes of happy birthday as being on beat 1, instead of a pickup. And also claiming the first note is the tonic. I guess people are scary too.

@hender99 Some always have been? A situation that’s unlikely to change? LOL!