First tracks: Daddy’s Car
Daddy’s Car: as song composed by artificial intelligence in the style of the Beatles was launched in September 2017.
Europe 1 french radio show announced the outbreak of AI in pop music with the release of the album “Hello World”. Patrick Cohen and his columnists listen to an excerpt from Daddy’s Car. “It sounds like a Laurent Voulzy’s or Etienne Daho’s tune than the Beatles,” says one of them. I agree with this comment and I can hear the ironic tone implying that the machine has failed to make a “new” Beatles song: people are always mistaking the sound (physical) from the notes (symbolic). Daddy’s Car was composed with AI, not recorded with AI.
I co-composed this title with the artificial intelligence of Flow Machines, I know what is my part, the contribution of François Pachet who also participated in the composition and the part of the machine. I think the Laurent Voulzy or Daho’s touch comes from the production made entirely by hand by a French Beatles fan like Laurent Voulzy is … The Beatles side is the machine, necessarily.
How I composed
How it works? First of all, you have to feed the machine with scores that constitute “inspiration”. All fantasies are possible: one can imagine stylistic mixtures or on the contrary seek to create the ideal corpus in a particular style or composer. This first step influences the way i listen the generated melodies: i try to recognize the influences i fed the machine with. Without this expectation, the machine would lose some of its attractiveness. Mystery of certain songs that fascinate us make us hope that it will be captured by the machine and rendered in magic sparkles.
I fed the system with my favorite Beatles songs (from Revolver). It was at the very beginning of my musician + machine sessions. I composed with the system in a disciplined way, making generate notes and chords on 16 or 32 bars. It was tedious. Later I understood that it was necessary to focus on 4 or 8 bars and build progressively the song.
After keeping the generated melodies that i liked the most, generating others (Flow Machines took into account what I had kept), I got a verse (played here by a Logic Pro electric piano) :
You’ll notice that the rising melody at 0:18 is very typical: it is accompanied by a harmonic descent at 0:22. You can hear this type of harmonic movement in Yesterday for example, as explained in this TEDx François Pachet who led the Flow Machines project.
I added by hand a kind of post chorus that came very naturally, with bells sounds (like in No Milk Today). I quickly recorded a demo in false English with many choirs. François Pachet went into the studio to listen. He suggested additional harmonies on the choirs and a structure that includes two different choruses: one with its variation and the other without. I liked the idea of asymmetry. The demo reminded me of a Voulzy title, especially the intro :
The night before Christmas holidays, the research team had gathered at the local coffee shop, ‘Waikiki’. This music reminds me of white wine and cigarette on the sidewalk.
The live show at the Gaité Lyrique
In September of the following year, it was urgent to put online a song composed with IA Flow Machines to promote the concert scheduled a month later at Gaité Lyrique (all the tracks of the live show here). I composed the tracks for the show with Barbara Carlotti, Ô, Lescop, Housse de Racket, Kumi, Camille Bertault and ALB .
I had to improve this too rough version of Daddy’s Car and write a text to replace the demo lyrics. I found it relevant to write very simple lyrics to stick to the concept of an artificial intelligence that compose its first tune. I thought of the Renault 16TX on the roads of Provence in the south of France and the car radio in which I always slipped the Revolver album when luckily my mother was driving and that I had the chance to be in front (I suppose my father was driving only the whole family …). Daddy’s car is driven by Mom.
It was an exercise in unpretentious style that was taken very seriously. I have a tenderness for this first title but my first real song with AI is Ballad of The Shadow.
Pictures : Fiammetta Ghedini