An A.I. Program is Making “New” Songs by Dead Music Icons

Amy Winehouse arrives at the 2007 Brit Awards

Photo by Gareth Cattermole via Getty Images

A Toronto-based non-profit fed the songs of Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, and The Doors, to Google’s Magenta A.I. program.

The troubling (and frankly, pointless) A.I. era of music creation has added yet another new chapter in a saga that can’t end soon enough.

As if making music by and for robots wasn’t enough, the latest instance of artificial intelligence infiltrating the music industry comes from Over The Bridge, a Toronto-based non-profit that “fed” Google’s Magenta A.I. program the songs of deceased music icons to bring attention to mental health discussions within the music community by having it create new compositions by artists who very publically struggled with depression and substance dependency. Because nothing pays tribute to an artist or their legacy like suggesting they could be replaced by a computer program. The product of this “feeding” is a four-track EP called Lost Tapes of The 27 Club, which features A.I.-generated songs in the keys of Jimi Hendrix, Amy Winehouse, Nirvana, and The Doors.

“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,” says Sean O’Connor, a board member of Over The Bridge, in an interview with Rolling Stone“If you put whole songs through, Magenta starts to get really confused on what [the song is] 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% of which is really bad and unlistenable,” O’Connor admits, sparking hope that we may still be a few years out from a total A.I. takeover.

Hear the Lost Tapes of The 27 Club project below.

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