Artificial intelligence to compose music: how capable is it of creating songs on its own?

On July 6, the final of the third edition of the competition was held AI Song Contesti.e. the one known as eurovision artificial intelligence. Spain’s proposal, the Galician song ‘AI-lalelo’, came second and was the audience’s favourite. can you really an artificial intelligence (AI) based program compose a song Or would it rather be a collaborative work tool with a human team? We spoke to songwriters and AI experts to figure it out. Listen up!

Galician sounds: GPT-3, Google Magenta and human review

In ‘AI-lalelo’, artificial intelligence was used for the composition of the lyrics and the melody, and part of the rhythms and instruments. The harmony, the structure, the voices and the rest of the rhythms and instruments are the responsibility of the human team. I mean it’s a song made using artificial intelligence, it was not achieved by a program per se.

As in any model of artificial intelligence, it took power the machine. For the lyrics, OpenAI text generation system, GPT-3, to write in Galician and compose copla with popular Galician songs. After, he was asked to write a letter about a seamstress. “We we stepped in to choose the letter who convinced us the most and corrects any misspellings, ”explains Juan Alonso, a machine learning and neural network technologist and member of the team that composed the song that represented Spain.

For the music, they first made a selection of melodies based on the style they were looking for. “When the AI ​​generated one that we liked, we put it back in place Google Magenta [herramienta de Google para usar el aprendizaje automático como herramienta creativa] and we iterated the process stanza by stanza,” he explains. i.e. always there was a human judge overseeing and calling the shots. “Without a human filtering, the results are worthy, but a fine and concrete adjustment cannot be done”, adds Alonso.

Artificial inspiration to generate new ideas, but after receiving data from a person

But then, is it really artificial intelligence? “Today, anything related to machine learning is considered artificial intelligence: models that look at large amounts of data, derive patterns from it, and learn how they are built to imitate them. For this, yes, this AI Eurovision song was composed using AI“, says carmen torrijosComputational Linguist and Head of Artificial Intelligence and Data at Prodigioso Volcán.

And would it be possible to do it without humans? Although the models of machine learning are much more independent than before, they do not compose themselvesexplains Torrijos: “The work of compiling the cantigas, converting them to plain text, organizing them and inserting them into the model is human. The machine receives instructions. The only thing that is artificial and autonomous is the spin. In addition, the result is cooked, because the first thing that came out was not selected”.

Although artificial intelligence cannot compose a song as we understand it by itself, yes it is a tool that artists and composers can use. “In creative processes it is very useful because, by centrifuging information in a more agile way, it can generate new ideas. It’s like a man made inspiration“, suggests the expert from Prodigioso Volcán.

Creative tool: from hurdy-gurdy to imitating the sound of a koala

Let’s look at some practical examples. Could AI reproduce the sound of any instrument? “We asked a member of the team to play the hurdy-gurdy for 15 minutes. With this information, we form nail red neuron who not only learned to imitate the sound of each notealso to make it softer or louder or to move from one note to another by sliding (like on a violin), something that you cannot do with a real hurdy-gurdy”, explains Alonso of the ‘AI-lalelo’ team.

And why would you want an AI-built hurdy-gurdy when you can have a real one? Alonso responds, “You may not have access to someone who can play it or you want to add those nuances to it. This creates a instrument that sounds like a hurdy-gurdy but has greater expressive possibilities”.

Even further: can we do the same to the sound of animals? Yes, that’s what led the Australian team to win the first AI Song Contest in 2020. they trained neural networks with the sounds of the koala and the cucaburra to give the song an “Australian flavor”.

“It was a very, very collaborative approach with the AI. When you enter the competition, you must write a document of the complete technical process; at this point you realize that it’s a collaboration between humans and machines“, he explains to Caroline Pegram, director of innovation strategy at Uncanny Valley, the Australian studio that created the winning song, and an AI Eurovision judge for the past two years.

Pegram consolidates everything analyzed into a clarifying conclusion: “Press a button and producing a complete pop song with artificial intelligence is not a reality… Again. Will it be one day? I’m skeptical that a computer can inject the emotion that humans can into songwriting. However, there are many possibilities for using machine learning and AI as a tool in the creative industries. It is essential not to cause unnecessary fear and anxiety in artists by thinking that they will be replaced by a machine. we have to search design solutions with the whole system in mind: people, technology and the environment”.

In effect, this year’s winner was ThailandWhy, according to a member of the jury“Using AI to create the melody, intonation and effects of this electric oboe line is a combination that I had not seen before”. We’ll see if the AI ​​is able to surprise (with its human team) next year.

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