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EC Container 5

Illustration: Musician


The goal of this scenario is to illustrate use of Intelligent Computer technology in the home.

There are several characters mentioned, Richard - the writer and musician, Janet - his wife, Jimmy - his son, Trent - a band member and Dahlia - Trent's daughter.

The scene takes place in the family home and starts with Richard home alone at the piano.


Warren Jones, Lana Rubalsky (2010) "Illustration: Musician", wJones Research, January 18, 2010
The song felt light, buttery.  I was composing something new but at the same time channelling Miles Davis’ Solea [Evans 1960].   I asked Bebo, my computerized Assistant, “What do you think?"   He had already been thinking, as usual, and suggested three options on my keyboard display,


I said, “hit me,” and continued keying a right and left hand melody I had been working on in D. 

“tat tat tat tee tat tat tat tat tat ta teetee tat”, slid in gradually as Bebo used a light stick brush to lay a sparse tempo with a snare drum.

“I like it,” I replied via the mic in my headset.  “Keep it and show me what else you’ve got.” 

Three trumpets, mostly muffled joined quietly from the left rear.

“tee da tee da da dit tee da tee da da dit ...”  

I lost myself for a few minutes in song, then paused, then keyed a few notes from the top and stopped.  “Good, but too literal.  When I go to F#, you stay at D.  What else you got?”

I started from the top again and almost didn’t hear it at first, but after the forth measure, in crept amongst the well modulated drum taps, were three of the smokiest bass chords I’ve ever heard.   After a minute Bebo started capping the last bass chord with a muffled high hat. 

“Damn!” was all I could think … all I could feel.  I took my hands off the keyboard and rested them in my lap.  I had goosebumps.  I knew Bebo was mecha, a reality processor with lots of data textures built from my music collection and gigs, but I still felt the same thrill, the magic of coalescing mood, melody and the perfect rhythm as if he was part of the band, or Jack working digital controllers in the studio.   I realized that this machine has picked up something I've never been able give the students, an ear.  I try, but have found through hard experience I can just give them the tools to find their ear, if they have one.

I stood up and walked to the kitchen, my arrival punctuated by a “beep” indicating Mr. Coffee was done.  I had fallen into a routine, or is now tradition?  Bebo grinds the beans just before I return home from Jimmy’s school where I teach an AP music class.  Bebo starts the brew at about 11:25, roughly five minutes before it calculates I will finish practice.  It sometimes delays the brew start when practice goes long, but it has never kept me waiting.  I poured a cup then walked to the TV room. 

The Panasonic should have been replaced years ago. It was one of the first generation HD displays, purchased back when 1080i was the best I could afford.  In the first three years, I replaced three of the bulbs that make the difference between vivid display and blank rectangular box.  I stopped renewing the extended warranty after its fourth year.  The warranty had been worth it, each bulb would have otherwise been four hundred dollars to replace.  But when I realized that the maintenance costs, warranty or not were more than the price of a new (and better) set, I decided that the next time she blew, I was heading to the store.  That was eight years ago.  Since then she’s worked like a charm … and smartly enough since the warranty company, Circuit City, went belly up. 

I pulled out my pocket watch and touched the calendar button.  Bebo, anticipating (by hours) my action, projected my schedule on the HD.  I liked using the watch to interact with Bebo because it was silent, fast and precise.  I could use voice, but only found it useful when composing music.  Of course I need both hands on the piano and wear headset for playback anyway, so voice interaction works.  At other times, voice is either impractical (due to noise) or I just don't feel comfortable talking to a computer.  Anyway, voice commands, even with Bebo's ability to understand context is still sometimes iffy. 

On the watch, I moved my thumb in a clockwise direction and the HD scrolled to Saturday. 

0830 Breakfast (all)
0930 Fencing Match at Lakeview (drive Jimmy)
1130 Shopping at Lakeview (all)
1230 Lunch at Ruby Tuesdays (all)
1430-1700 Gig at Harry’s with Trent (me, Jimmy) (accept?)
1330-1700 Hair appointment (Janet)
next …

I thumbed “1430”, holding it for an extra second to read the details:

Event: Wedding Reception
Music Type: Top 40 Wedding
Fee: $500
Trent’s Piano player is expected to be ill (see message)
Jimmy and Dahlia (Trent’s daughter) are now collegial.
Dahlia will attend if Jimmy will attend.
Set Reminder to query Jimmy at dinner
Accept w/Jimmy  Accept wo/Jimmy  or  Decline
last updated today at 1132

Trent would probably call in a few minutes about this.  His Bebo (or whatever he calls his Assistant) had probably just received a similar message from the piano player’s Assistant.  Trent’s Assistant probably also knew the connection between our kids.  I didn’t have to touch “collegial” to know what linkage Bebo referenced.  Jimmy and Dahlia had been on the phone every evening for the past two weeks.  I probably should feel bad about this, but I have Bebo give me a heads up whenever a Jimmy’s on the line with anyone for more than seven hours in a week.  It helps me "keep track".  It also supplies good fodder for dinner conversation. 

I accepted the gig as coming with Jimmy.  I know he’ll complain.  Jimmy would rather sit at home and watch college football all Saturday afternoon.  He’ll really howl when he finds he must put on a suit and help me carry the gear and then sit there for two and a half hours.  Maybe I’ll hold off mentioning that there will be food, music and Dahlia in a dress until Saturday.

I rotated my thumb counter clockwise to check today's dinner menu.  Over the past month, I had become a big fan of Indian food.  I played a wedding for credits for a Gujarat chef two months ago.  We agreed to convert the credits to thirty dinners which he has delivered by courier bot to the house weekdays.  I’ve become particularly fond of a vegetarian dish called Chana masala and a bread called chole bhature.  I told Bebo and I believe he passed the preference to the Chef’s Assistant.   Now we get Chana masala every other day.  I think the credits run out this week.  Pity.

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