Can machines make music? Most definitely. But can they make music with soul and emotion? Scientists really want to make that happy–not to make musicians unnecessary and redundant, but to push the boundaries and capabilities of machine learning. A science experiment, in other words.
But there are other uses for AI in the music industry and frankly, I’m not so crazy about some of them. In fact, the use of AI may actually hurt the art of music. This article from MTV explains a few of the pitfalls.
Late last year, a team of Sony researchers based in Paris released a pair of new pop songs. One, called “Daddy’s Car,” straightforwardly echoed the soft ’60s psychedelia of The Beatles; the other, “Mr. Shadow,” was an electro-ish update on classic jazz à la Duke Ellington or Cole Porter. The songs were just fine (if that), from a critical standpoint. What made them major events was the fact that they were composed using artificial intelligence, specifically using the Flow Machines software developed by Sony’s Computer Science Laboratory. Computers, not humans, had composed the melodies of the songs, pulling cues from a database of more than 10,000 diverse lead sheets.
Once the algorithm spit out a melody, human composer Benoît Carré stepped in to pen lyrics and produce the finished tracks. But that didn’t stop music fans from wondering if their dear pop idols were soon to be replaced by a gaggle of Dolores Abernathy clones making future house (or whatever the kids are listening to these days). “This AI-written pop song is almost certainly a dire warning for humanity,” read a headline at The Verge. “It looks like robots are one step closer to taking over the world,” wrote Complex.