AI is making a melodious noise
Updated: Nov 24, 2021
It’s no secret that AI has been used for some time now to complement the music production process – Heard of David Bowies Verbasizer? (Side note: If you need some lyrical inspiration, go have some fun here: https://verbasizer.com ) Verbasizer was released in 1995 and one could argue that this is where we first saw AI cement its apathetic self into commercial music production.
Fast forward 26 years and AI is being used regularly on various platforms throughout the music production process. Take a listen to the album Hello World. Part of Sony CSL’s Flowmachines project, this album took a deep dive into exploring different scenarios for man-machine collaborations. The goal was to show that AI could create something musically unique, emotive, fresh and in the style that the artist desired. It did. And to add, it’s not a bad listen either.
While I don’t think that in this instance, AI is going to oust the need for producers or songwriters any time soon, it certainly is transforming the process of music creation at its fundamental core. The rise of Amper, Popgun, Humtap, AIVA, Google Magenta and dozens more, have paved the way for future artists to express their inner musicality - with little to no knowledge of musical theory. Who needs a studied composer when Average Joe can create something that feels and sounds like Beethoven’s Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor?
If anything, artificial intelligence is becoming a powerful collaborator, and affording those with little to no understanding of musical theory the ability to express themselves fluently in music. Similarly, it is providing existing artists with a new form of musical expression. Take a listen to the gloriously terrifying song called Godmother by experimental singer-songwriter and scientist; Holly Heardon and her collaborators Jlin and Spawn. Spawn is Holly's self-proclaimed AI baby and Godmother was a track born entirely out of Spawn’s artificial neural network. Like Flowmachines 'Hello World', it showcases the powerful coalition that is developing between man and machine within the musical arts.
While Godmother is nothing akin to a catchy, chart-topping single, one can’t argue that it is without merit in the place of the music arts. Of course, there are far more mainstream tracks and albums that are being composed by AI these days that may be a little more appealing to the majority (Taryn Southern’s album “I AM AI” springs to mind here). Like it or not folks, AI is the future of music collaboration and it’s making a melodious noise. It has a voice, it has a purpose, it's being heard. What will the future of AI in music look like? Well, that's currently still up to us humans thankfully...