The first full-length mainstream music album co-written with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) was released on 12 January and experts believe that the science behind it could lead to a whole new style of music composition.
Popular music has always been fertile ground for technological innovation. From the electric guitar to the studio desk, laptops and the wah-wah pedal, music has the ability to absorb new inventions with ease.
Now, the release of Hello World, the first entire studio album co-created by artists and AI could mark a watershed in music composition.
Stemming from the FlowMachines project, funded by the EU’s European Research Council, the album is the fruits of the labour of 15 artists, music producer Benoit Carré, aka Skygge, and creative software designed by computer scientist and AI expert François Pachet.
Already Belgian pop sensation Stromae and chart-topping Canadian chanteuse Kiesza have been making waves with the single Hello Shadow.
The software works by using neural networks – artificial intelligence systems that learn from experience by forming connections over time, thereby mimicking the biological networks of people’s brains. Pachet describes its basic job as ‘to infer the style of a corpus (of music) and generate new things’.
A musician firstly provides ‘inspiration’ to the software by exposing it to a collection of songs. Once the system understands the style required it outputs a new composition.
‘The system … analyses the music in terms of beats, melody and harmony,’ said Pachet, ‘And then outputs an original piece of music based on that style.’