LISTEN: Artificial Intelligence Has Rendered What Nirvana Might Sound Like In 2021


A new Nirvana song? Well, not really. But, I suppose, the closest thing we could get. Thanks to artificial intelligence, we’ve got technology that’s rendered something pretty close.

More here, from Consequence of Sound. 

As explained in a Rolling Stone feature, Google’s AI program Magenta was used to analyze the pioneering grunge band’s music and create the instrumental track. An artificial neural network was then used to generate the lyrics, while the vocals were recorded by Eric Hogan, frontman of an Atlanta Nirvana tribute band.

Magenta was fed up to 30 of each artists’ songs as MIDI files. The program then translated the “pitch and rhythm into a digital code that can be fed through a synthesizer to recreate a song.” New compositions were made by “examining each artist’s note choices, rhythmic quirks, and preferences for harmony in the MIDI file.”

Lost Tapes of the 27 Club is the work of Over the Bridge, a Toronto organization that helps members of the music industry struggling with mental illness. Sean O’Connor, who is on the board of directors, elaborated on the process of using Magenta:

“We took 20 to 30 songs from each of our artists as MIDI files and broke them down to just the hook, solo, vocal melody or rhythm guitar and put those through one at a time. If you put whole songs through, [the program] starts to get really confused on what [it’s] supposed to sound like. But if you just have a bunch of riffs, it’ll put out about five minutes of new AI-written riffs, 90 percent of which is really bad and unlistenable. So you start listening through and just finding little moments that are interesting.”

Oh, and Over The Bridge did the same for The Doors, and Jimi Hendrix. 

From Lost Tapes’ YouTube page:

As long as there’s been popular music, musicians and crews have struggled with mental health at a rate far exceeding the general adult population. And this issue hasn’t just been ignored. It’s been romanticized, by things like the 27 Club—a group of musicians whose lives were all lost at just 27 years old.

To show the world what’s been lost to this mental health crisis, Over The Bridge, an organization that empowers musicians and to reclaim their lives from their mental health struggles, used artificial intelligence to create the album the 27 Club never had the chance to. Through this album, we’re encouraging more music industry insiders to get the mental health support they need, so they can continue making the music we all love for years to come.

Because even AI will never replace the real thing.

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