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What did AI do ?


I want to tell the story of the first album composed with an artificial intelligence. I never imagined sharing unique moments with great musicians, singers from very different genres.

Hello World, the first pop album composed with artificial intelligence is more than ever an album made by musicians.

What did the human musician do in all that?

A recurring question of the journalists is: what did the human musician do in all that? This question reminds me old fears about the sampler when it came up in the 80’s. Which was seen like a threat for the real musicians. Indeed, a sampler does not create music from scratch, the novelty with the Flow Machines system is the generation of original melodies and sounds. This new way of composing songs therefore raises a legitimate question: what did the AI in this album ​? Is artificial Intelligence audible in Hello World? I will try to answer this question here.

First, what is the artificial intelligence of Flow Machines? It is definitely not the caricature images of robots that have illustrated many articles on SKYGGE !

First step: compose the song with the Flow Composer

Flow Composer is an online score editor (developed by Vincent Degroote, Timotée Neullas and Daniel Martin) – this looks more familiar to musicians than weird robots playing guitar.

More infos about Flow Machines there as I used it can be found in this paper (Arxiv). The latest developments of the project are found here.

For those who want to go further in the understanding of the Flow Machines scientific project (co-financed by the ERC), there is a video of François Pachet explaining the basis concepts here :

François Pachet

In the core of Hello World Album  algorithms has proposed original and unpublished melodies, sound fragments that musicians have found beautiful and catchy. The algorithms were in the state of prototypes and they were improved by our experiments during the many composition sessions. Musicians and scientist interacted intensively throughout the project.

What is Flow Machines?

It is a system with two main engines. The first one, Flow Composer generates notes and chords in the form of a score. The other one generates audio renderings given MIDI targets

Second step: produce the song

The sound of Flow Machines is produced by Rechord . Here are some examples.

What is the common point between Michael Bubble, Stevie Wonder and Michelle of the Beatles ?

In one click you can try many possible combinations of audio renderings The audio files entered in the machine are analyzed and can be adapted and applied to a score.

Here are some examples of stylistic explorations guided by intuition, chance. For example: Michael Bubble sings Michelle on Stevie Wonder.

A cappella by Michael Bubble

The intro of Love’s in need of love today by Stevie Wonder

After one click, Rechord and Mashmelo generated a version of Michelle

Other examples of “smart” mashups

On Girl from Ipanema: Franck Ocean’s Super Rich Kids and Marvin Gaye’s Heard it trough the Grapevine

On Girl from Ipanema always: Rihanna and an instrumental in style 60 (directed by Virgile Allien)

On a melody Flow machines that I composed: a voice of Paul Mc Cartney

Of course, none of these examples, however interesting they may be, can be exploited commercially unless all rights holders agree. But these so jubilant generations can be the starting point for an original title

From experimentations to “real” music creation

Flow Machines has attracted musicians like Stromae, Michael Lovett and many others (see the album description OR THE ARXIV PAPER). Over the course of almost every session, the requirement to make a good title exceeded the simple experience and the machine became an instrument from which one had to draw the best material to make the best possible song.

More importantly I want to saythat at last that we would have never composed these songs without the machine. These melodies, these sounds, have somewhat inhuman touch but they are captivating. The album was released in January under the heading “the first pop album composed with AI” … This argument caught the public’s ear, and unfortunately I think very few people have listened to the album with a neutral ear. I start reading positive articles about the music as in Crack magazine: Skygge listed as one of the 25 artists of the future 

In following posts I’ll describe some precious moments i want to share with you.

Inside the Flow machines Studio

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