Friday Faculty Focus: Jeremy Baguyos


September 1st, 2017

Jeremy Baguyos poses for a photo. (Photo by Brandon McDermott)

This week, on Friday Faculty Focus, KVNO’s Brandon McDermott speaks with Jeremy Baguyos professor from the School of Interdisciplinary Informatics and the School of Music at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Brandon McDermott: Thank you for coming on the show.

Jeremy Baguyos: Well thank you for having me. It’s an honor.

McDermott: How long have you been here at UNO and has your time here been fruitful?

Baguyos: I have been here 10 years. I came here in 2007 and yes it’s been very fruitful. This is the kind of university — really kind of rare nowadays — that really lets an artist, a creative type, be a true creative spirit (and) really pursue what they want to do.

McDermott: You’re collaborating here with UNMC. Can you kind of told the listeners about that?

Baguyos: Yes, that actually started about eight months ago and we’ve just been kind of chipping away at it. Our end here at UNO is to visualize heartbeat data in the hopes that we have two approaches here — our low hanging fruit approach is to make sure that we have visualizations that will help med students recognize different types of heart murmurs. But the dream here is to have an automated heart murmur detection system, so right now we’re collecting, cataloguing and visualizing a large database of heart murmurs.

We’re working with a team over there they are capturing and over here we are analyzing. I don’t want to commit to this, but the dream is to have a Shazam type of app for heart murmurs. There are some inherent difficulties with that we’re looking at what is feasible and what isn’t but we’re hoping that if we can get close that will be a lot better than what people have now.

McDermott: I also see you have an interest here with innovation in music primarily were art information and creativity intersects. Can you kind of explain that?

Baguyos: I think that the best way to explain is when I first got here it was really big to create artificially intelligent computers that will become a musical partner for me and more often than not these were made by the partner. I was I was in collaboration with other people from outside of the university trying to create software that would be intelligent enough to play music with me, not just to follow me but to recognize what I’m doing and then to create musical ideas that were similar to what I was doing and then that we would have kind of a chamber music type of interplay between each other.

That has been around actually long before I came to UNO and I bumped up against the same problems that most computer musicians who tried to do interactive computer music bump up into in that computers cannot make us that judgments they cannot make judgments about what is beautiful. Therefore the music sounds like it’s written by a computer — let’s put it that way. If a computer has no sense of aesthetic judgment then you can kind of guess what that will sound like, not very good to put it bluntly.

McDermott: Talk about the real time interactive computer music composition does that play at all and with that is that the specifically what you are talking about?

Baguyos: Yes the composition part we think of composition interactive computer music as the software. Some older generation electronic musicians will completely disagree with me in they’ll probably call in and argue with me — if this were live. What it is – is that instead of writing notes on a piece of paper you write code. This code would then be the creation and this code could listen or this code could simply generate music or it could do both. Ideally it would do both, so that it can react to a performer and ultimately become that performer’s chamber music partner.

McDermott: Why do this? I mean are we having a tough time finding a partner to play with or is it just “why not?”

Baguyos: Wow. That is a great question that’s something that I should be asked more often. There’s definitely a science experiment type of mentality. Music technology, computer music definitely straddles both music and the sciences. Sometimes you just want to see if you can do it. It’s very much looking into that pool and wanting to see yourself and David Cope, one of the heroes of the field, even said so that ultimately I’m just I was just trying to create a version of myself in software.

McDermott: Is there anything else you’d like to add, maybe a topic we didn’t touch on before we go?

Baguyos: Everyone laments, as useful as they are for some things, the metrics of standardized tests in K-12 and the ACT for getting into college. The ACT only measures a student’s ability to find the right answer that already exists, as opposed to finding the answers that don’t exist — but more importantly finding the right questions to ask in the first place. This is something that musicians and artists have been doing for years.

McDermott: Jeremy Baguyos thanks again for coming on.

Baguyos: Thank you so much.

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