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TESTAMENT's ALEX SKOLNICK On AI Replacing Musicians: "Pop Music Is Much More In Danger Than Guitar Music"

"I cannot picture AI doing what we do as live musicians, giving the human touch to music"


The debate about the impact of AI on music is likely to continue in the future, with many artists weighing in about how they think the use of technology could impact the creative process as we know it.

The latest to express his views about the matter is Testament's guitarist Alex Skolnick, who in a recent conversation with Ultimate Guitar, said that he believes that the use of a generator as a tool to create melodies, harmonies, and rhymes based on artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms and machine learning (ML) models is "much more in danger" to pop music than to heavy metal.

Skolnick explained that pop music is often "pretty mechanical" and "sounds like a machine came up with it". He believes that AI is well-suited to creating this type of music, as it can be programmed to follow specific formulas and patterns. However, he thinks that guitar-based music is more difficult for AI to replicate, as is often "improvisational" and requires "the human touch", with AI not yet capable of capturing its essence.

"That's a very recent technology, and it remains to be seen how that impacts music and the music industry as a whole. It's a little bit scary in a way, but as somebody that does a lot of improvisational music, even though I'm best known for my work playing heavy metal, I know that improvisational music is very hard to replicate. I cannot picture AI doing what we do as live musicians, playing off of each other and giving the human touch to music. I can understand it with other music."

"I'm not sure it would work for heavy metal. I would imagine some types of heavy metal… I'm sure AI could come up with a riff, come up with something that sounds like Judas Priest or whatever, but I don't know how convincing that would be.” Skolnick added. “I know it has worked with some of the more recent pop music such as Drake and The Weeknd, but that music's pretty mechanical to begin with. So, to me, that already sounds like a machine came up with it. So, I think music like that is much more in danger than guitar music, at least for now."

Will AI eventually become sophisticated enough to replicate all types of music, including very complex guitar compositions like the ones Skolnick is able to come up with? That remains to be seen.

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