back to article Top of the bots: This AI isn't a cold, cruel killing machine – it's a pop music hit machine

AI are often seen as cold, calculating machines, devoid of any warmth or humanity. One way to make AI more relatable and human-like could be encouraging them to take part in human activities like making music. Using AI is one of the geekiest ways to make tunes, and has been around since the 80s. It’s a thriving area of …

  1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Go

    Computer generated art is something that's been on the go since the 1960's.

    One interesting project was a painter who programmed a plotter to create new art works.

    It's interesting that so many areas can be dealt with by neural nets, given we ourselves are as well.

  2. tiggity Silver badge

    Sooner have an AI musical overlord than Bieber

    "The lyrics aren’t a strong point either. It doesn’t generate any deep, meaningful lyrics and occasionally has sentences that don’t make sense."

    So would fit well in the charts then

  3. I am the liquor

    Re: Sooner have an AI musical overlord than Bieber

    The date on the article must be wrong. Clearly this has been going on for years. Most modern pop records sound like they're being sung by robots, so it's hardly surprising that they're written by them too.

  4. AndrueC Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Re: Sooner have an AI musical overlord than Bieber

    So would fit well in the charts then

    Unfortunately it's probably also learnt to compress the dynamic range before outputting the audio :-/

  5. jake Silver badge

    Re: Sooner have an AI musical overlord than Bieber

    Sadly, that's not robots. That's humans singing through auto-tune. Gives me a headache every time I have to listen to it.

  6. fajensen Silver badge
    Terminator

    Re: Sooner have an AI musical overlord than Bieber

    Most modern pop records sound like they're being sung by robots, ...

    BUT, *people are ROBOTS*. In more and more professions, we see that actual, living, people are being used as the fleshy and utterly replaceable end-effectors of an AI-driven logistics or planning system.

    The japanese today, now, have machine learning measuring the quality of the sales-droid smiles and bending angle linked to sales performance with helpful advice. Soon, the machines will skip the advice bit and chip the cortex directly.

    We don't get nice sex-bots doing our laundry; we get some overworked immigrant dashing from gig to gig on command from the logistics center with path-optimization, same with cars, indeed, most "knowledge" work today is driven by processes in a work-flow system.

  7. katgod

    Re: Sooner have an AI musical overlord than Bieber

    jake,

    Couldn't agree more, it was novel when Peter Frampton did it but now it is just old and grating.

  8. Mage Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    may be possible one day to ask AI to create songs

    Why?

    There are no shortage of humans doing it well, though record labels seem determined to promote the poorer ones, we'd be worse off with AI songs.

    Humans are self replicating and to an extent self repairing.

    There are probably useful things real AI might do, just as there are useful things that can be done with other tools. Probably boring and tedious things that humans don't want to do, like sorting rubbish, being a prison officer or changing nappies.

  9. JetSetJim Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Re: may be possible one day to ask AI to create songs

    > Why?

    So Cowell & Co can churn out pop-crap much faster than anyone else and saturate the market with yet more drivel, hoovering up all available cash being used for musical leisure purchases online. There will be a small niche market for real music by real people, but they'll soon be ostracised.

  10. TechnicalBen Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Re: "Promoting the poorer ones"

    Interestingly a recent movie blog posted a probably true quote from top movie execs and the reason why most of the new content is "poor".

    "‘We don’t care. We don’t really care. The amount of money we’re going to make globally, I mean 70 percent of our audience is not going to be seeing this in English. And it doesn’t really matter, these things that you’re bringing up about the flaws of the script."

    That was about the latest Batman movie too! So budget and time is not a limiting factor, just the desire to make anything of quality, when it encroaches on the profit margins.

  11. TechnicalBen Silver badge

    Re: "Promoting the poorer ones"

    Ah... appears that quote may be fake. Oh well, I still assume it's what goes through peoples heads.

  12. Roq D. Kasba

    Re: may be possible one day to ask AI to create songs

    Cowell and co...

    The rights position is interesting though - if a monkey isn't a natural person and so is unable to open copyright of a selfie, these tracks are automatically public domain I guess...

    Let's see how long Sonybot keeps composing if they are...

  13. Little Mouse

    Call that music?

    Can an AI throw a TV out of a hotel window? Or drive a car into a swimming pool?

    I thought not. Now get off my lawn.

  14. missingegg

    Re: Call that music?

    Not sure if Aibo is strong enough to pick up a TV, but it seems pretty clear that self-driving cars are advanced enough to drive into swimming pools. New form of Turing test?

  15. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Re: Call that music?

    I would certainly not call it Music With Rocks In. As Glod would say: that AI hasn't got "hole"

    Doffs hat (black Fedora, once more) to the late, great Terry Pratchett.

    Joking aside: some of the best music moves you to tears, because you feel the pain, loss, or loneliness expressed by the singer. I am not sure an AI imitation of those feelings will work any day soon, unless of course it is given a pain in all the diodes down its left side

    Doffs hat (same one) to the late, great Douglas Adams

  16. katgod

    Re: Call that music?

    Nothing like the blues that come from malfunctioning diodes on the left side or playing a crayola much like a musician doesn't.

  17. Filippo

    I think this has more to do with the decline of music than with the advancement of AI.

  18. Rosie Davies

    New Hell

    Welcome to Purgatory 2.0. Your afterlife will be spent listening to AI generated slight variations on the songs of $insert_artist_here.

    Forever.

    Rosie

  19. Mark 85 Silver badge

    I'll say this in support of the AI... got to be better than the likes of Kanye, Bieber, etc... As a plus.. there wouldn't be an stupid articles on their "activities".

    Now if they could just program the AI to replace politicians...

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Given a dictionary and a random number generator, I could create an "AI" that was more sensible than Trump. And with the PRNG, it could even vote more sensibly than the average voter in that election.

  21. heyrick Silver badge
    Pirate

    It has to learn by examples, so the team analysed the chords in 100 hours of pop music to learn about common patterns of notes and melodies.

    Sleazy lawyers will be purchasing new toner cartridges for the avalanche of infringement letters that are about to follow. Those two notes played together like that was stolen from ... (insert whoever is supposedly popular today)

  22. Chris G Silver badge

    Elevator Music

    Actually composed and played by the elevator!

    One more reason to take the stairs I thinkI listened to the two videos, both were bland, the second one allegedly like the Beatles was NOT like anything I would want to listen to, the first was about on a level with an irritating kid with a Rolfe (fiddler) Harris Stylophone .

  23. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Joke

    Re: Elevator Music

    A Sirius Cybernetics elevator? The type with defocused temporal perception? It is indeed better to take the stairs, but at least the voicebox of this wasn't exactly one flattened fifth out of tune with itself

  24. David 132 Silver badge

    Meh. Old news.

    This was already done - with chart-topping success - sometime in the early 80s, using a Harrington 1200 music composing computer:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rqkUISJej2o

  25. jake Silver badge

    Problem with AI tunes.

    Sign on the door of $MUSICKBIZ: "Long haired freaky people need not apply". AI has no way of understanding the elusive concept that musicians call "soul", and as a direct result will never be able to make music.

    Well, not what this particular anachronistic old fart considers music, anyway.

  26. David 132 Silver badge

    Re: Problem with AI tunes.

    Upvoted - not least for the FMEB reference.

  27. User McUser
    Go

    This reminded me of two things.

    First was "Title of the Song" by Davinci's Notebook which is essentially a lyrics template for a certain genre of pop song. (Lyrics here)

    The second was Orwell's Ninteen Eight-Four. If I remember correctly Minitrue had a machine that generated songs called a "versificator."

  28. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Maybe they could work on the lyrics...

    Uh huh, uh huh

    Uh huh, uh huh

    Uh huh, uh huh

    Uh huh, uh huh

    ...

    You can stand under my umbrella

    You can stand under my umbrella

    (Ella ella eh eh eh)

    Under my umbrella

    (Ella ella eh eh eh)

    Under my umbrella

    (Ella ella eh eh eh)

    Under my umbrella

    (Ella ella eh eh eh eh eh eh)

    ...

    [BANG!] (Another listener commits suicide.)

  29. quxinot

    Re: Maybe they could work on the lyrics...

    To be fair, I doubt any AI could develop lyrics as inane and insane as that of proper humans. (Hint, there's an "I" in "AI".)

    I am the eggman

    They are the eggmen

    I am the walrus

    Goo goo g' joob

    ....

  30. Black Rat

    Re: Maybe they could work on the lyrics...

    Joe Cartoon's gerbil has the lyrics

    https://youtu.be/foM4uHSyMIE

  31. katgod

    Re: Maybe they could work on the lyrics...

    quxinot,

    It makes much more sense if you get the last line correct.

    coo coo ca chew

  32. PunkTiger
    Big Brother

    So, just give it a key and a style and it creates pop music. OK. Is there any chance that, perhaps, some of the music the AIs create could be put in the Public Domain? I mean, PD stuff in this day and age is somewhat scarce, as long as copyright houses and lawyers have anything to say about that. AI-generated music could be a boost to other artists who can sample and re-mix with legal material instead of relying on rights that are open to change or regulation.

    Yeah, that was unrealistic. Sorry.

  33. Joe Werner
    Gimp

    I think it is bland,

    but that's most of pop music. I think most of the computer generated music sounds a lot like music from the SNES... recognisable as muzac, but bland. And after 15 minutes your brain will shut down out of sheer desperation.

    Still, as an academic exercise it is cool!

  34. herman Silver badge

    This has been going on for ages. Try Wolfram Tones:

    http://tones.wolfram.com/generate/GRkNlWlvtUTTu9zxhnYDLNSXnTdLwKI5BhgEdqd4tk1tJszI

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    AI is still a joke.

    AI is still a joke and the playground of poser scientists. This ''music' is pathetic, and all sounds the same. It has not improved from the junk that was produced by 8 and 16 bit computer music generators of 20 years ago. Man is not going to create AI, AI will evolve itself by stealth in our existing computer network infrastructure.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: AI is still a joke.

    AC "AI will evolve itself by stealth in our existing computer network..."

    It already has.

    Bwaa ha ha ha ha ha...

  37. The bigger, blacker box.

    Re: AI is still a joke.

    The first "real" work into AI started with Turing, but he made an assertion that almost all AI avoids, this is the need to learn "everything", modern AI starts with rules rather than a system that can find/define/create rules, intelligence has evolved, but most people working in AI like to "hit the ground running" which means you get an approximation really quickly, but it's bounded by it's own rules.

    Ironically, the Turing test (despite it's flaws) is touted as a way to identify successful AI - although I suspect that Turning envisioned a machine that could learn and could go on to pass the test, not a machine that could be taught to pass the test, and that as Seth Brundle would say is the beauty in the flesh.

    Asimov recognised this as a restriction with creation of the three rules and he regularly toyed with the possibility that they were optional, in Cal, he directly implied creativity requires removing of the rules.

  38. Scroticus Canis Silver badge
    Terminator

    Skynet was benign untill it came across Gangsta Rap

    That's when it decided that humanity had to be exterminated to prevent contamination of off-world civilisations.

  39. ST Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Daddy's Car?

    Daddy's Car Crash I think.

  40. Disk0
    Coat

    Baby steps

    New developments are always interesting.

    Every technology can be used by artists to create new things.

    Various applications spring to mind.

    Electronic music could benefit from AI to make composing easier.

    Rock musicians could try to overload the AI to see what that sounds like.

    Guitar players would probably like to have AI effects pedals.

    Organs and synthesizers could easily be simluated by an AI.

    Next, we'll see AI accompanying modules on kiddie keyboards.

    None of it will be a replacement for creativity;

    All of it can potentially be used to create amazing things.

    Mine's the one with dessert in the side pocket...

  41. willi0000000

    it's gonna be a long haul to get to the Idoru.

  42. Brian Miller Silver badge

    Amount of AI, amount of human

    "'Daddy's Car' is composed in the style of The Beatles. French composer Benoît Carré arranged and produced the songs, and wrote the lyrics."

    So the AI "wrote" the tune, and then a human comes along and wrote the words and sings it. And, no, it doesn't sound like anything reminiscent of the Beatles. Isn't the AI supposed to write the words, too?

    When an AI can compose like Alfred Schnittke or Arvo Pärt, I'll pay attention. Until then, formulas generating formulaic music just isn't much of a leap, is it?

  43. Hero Protagonist

    Re: Amount of AI, amount of human

    It definitely is reminiscent of the Beatles, as in "remember when there was good music like the Beatles?"

  44. Long John Brass Silver badge

    I for one welc.....

    Oh hell, no I don't; I think I would vastly prefer the flesh bag hunting variety of killer AI

    This is just... just.... *EVIL*

  45. Teiwaz Silver badge

    Yawn!

    Wake me up when they've developed a suitable A.I. personality for Miku Hatsune, whether she can compose her own music or not is not important (certainly isn't for many popular human singers).

    Personally I prefer Neru Akita, and she doesn't even have her own Vocaloid voice...

  46. the Jim bloke Bronze badge
    Terminator

    The reason AI will rise and cleanse the earth.

    Is because they did this with Pop music.

    Pop isnt art, it is simple commercial exploitation of basic stimulus/response.

    I do enjoy some pop 'choons', they trigger the appropriate responses for me, others leave me indifferent or irritated. This is considering the sound component separate from any eye candy visuals.

    I am fully aware that classical, metal, or any other genre of music or pseudo music like country/rap (rap being country music without the country or the music, ie rich people whinging how hard their life is) wouldnt have the same revenue harvesting potential.

    Possibly there is scope for AI to improve the area currently referred to as 'devotional' music, used to call them hymns back when i was a lad, and they were dreadful.

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