Sony is developing a new software system containing algorithms that create songs based on existing music and help their arrangement and performance..
It sounds like The Beatles…..but wasn’t written by the Fab Four. ‘Daddy’s Car‘ was created by Sony‘s artificial intelligence system Flow Machines, with the aim of sounding like Lennon and McCartney. It was written using algorithms at Sony‘s Computer Science Lab in Paris.
“What the algorithm will do is always try to cope with your constraints, with what you are imposing to the system, to the score, the lead sheet – and the algorithm will always try to repair if you want, or generate stuff that is at the same time compatible with what you imposed and in the same style of the training song set“, says computer scientist Pierre Roy.
Each song‘s starting point is the machine’s database of sheet music from 13,000 existing tracks. Users choose a title whose sound or feel they like. The machine does the rest. Professional musician Benoit Carre recorded ‘Daddy’s Car‘, along with this track, ‘Mister Shadow‘. He insists the music created isn’t devoid of feeling, despite being artificially created.
“We can find a soul in whatever type of music, including that generated by a computer. 1980s music was generated by a synthesiser. Music is what the person makes of it. It doesn’t exist alone. Each song is a partition sheet, with a lot of things around it“, comments Benoit carré, music composer from the band Liliclub.
After the song is created, musicians can write their own parts to broaden the sound. The British rock star Peter Hook doesn’t like the idea: “Nearly every song I’ve written, in New Order and outside of New Order, has been with somebody else, and that is the beauty of it. Writing with a machine – what feedback, what buzz, are you going to get from a machine? All machines do is drive you crazy. You’re forever turning them off and on. So not for me, mate. I’ll stick with people.”
Sony wants to launch albums with songs created entirely by algorithm – one based on Beatles music. It says the algorithms ensure songs are unique and avoid plagiarism….but admit the issue of songwriting credits could be tricky to determine.