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Hello World album, track by track

Here is a description of the decisive moments in the composition of the titles in interaction with Flow Machines.

My first song composed with Flow Machines showed me the great potential of this new interaction with AI tools for music creation. Ash Workman and Michael Lovett detuned the drums and added some drive effects. The main theme is unconventional yet beautifully makes its way through an unusual chord progression

Sensitive was composed by SKYGGE with Flow Machines, inspired by bossa novas. There are some patterns in the song such as major-minor progressions, that bossa nova fans will recognize and like. Harmonic changes are sometimes audacious, but the melody always stays on tracks. SKYGGE generated a voice for the melodic line with random lyrics, like a mosaic of syllables extracted from the a cappella recording of a vocalist. However, once played with a piano, the music sounded like a powerful 70s ballad. 

François Pachet and SKYGGE share an endless admiration for Antonio Carlos Jobim, the great Brazilian composer, and they wanted to do a cover of his famous song One Note Samba with Flow Machines. SKYGGE put together generated stems with drums, bass and pads and right away got awesome results: a singular and catchy tune with great harmonies and timbre. The resulting harmonies slightly differ from the original but do not betray the logic of the song. The chord progression brings a Jobimian touch to the melody through unexpected harmonic modulations. A few days before, the French band The Pirouettes” had come to the studio and had uploaded two songs from their first album Carrément, Carrément. Vocals were generated from these recordings for One Note Samba, so fans of The Pirouettes may recognize words from their original songs

SKYGGE fed Flow Machines with French pop songs from the 80s. The machine generated a simple melody, which sounded groovy when rendered it with a generated choir. The title comes from a phrase that comes back frequently in the choir: Magic Man. It was a nice surprise that the machine came up with a shiny pop song title with such an electro-disco feel. Flow Machines generated guitars from an American folk stem, as well as other vocals on the verse, and SKYGGE sung over those voices to get a more complex vocal blend. He also asked the singer Mariama to sing along with the generated choir to reinforce the groove. The lyrics are a mashup from all the generated syllables. French electro band Napkey worked on the arrangement at the end of the production, and Michael Lovett added synthesizer arpeggios.

In The House of Poetry: SKYGGE wanted to compose a song with the enchanting charm of ancient folk melodies. He fed Flow Machines with folk ballads and jazz tunes. As a result, the machine generated melodies with a chord progressions right in that mood, and a catchy and singular melodic movement (see Figure 16). Once the verse was done, he fed Flow Machines with a jazzier style for the chorus part, in order to bring in rich harmonic modulations. Flow Machines then proposed an unconventional and audacious harmonic modulation in the first bar of the chorus, with an ascending melody illuminating the song (see Figure 17). SKYGGE followed up with a small variation by exploiting a 2-bar pattern generated by Flow Machines and asked the system again to generate a harmonic progression that would resolve nicely with the tonality of the verse. He subsequently asked Kyrie Kristmanson to join, hoping she would like the song and would not be afraid of its technically challenging nature. She was indeed enthusiastic and wrote lyrics inspired by the tale The Shadow by Andersen. She focused on the part of the story where the Shadow tells the learned man what he saw in the house of Poetry. The song is divided in two parts. In the first part Kyrie sings; in the second part, Kyries vocals are generated by Flow Machines from recordings of Kyries voice 

CRYYYY: This simple melody in the style of pop tunes from the 60s was generated almost exactly in its final form. When SKYGGE was working in the studio of Ash Workman with Michael Lovett, Ash had just received an old cabinet organ from the 70s bought on the net. They plugged it in and began to play the chords of Cryyyy. It sounded great, and they recorded all those sounds for the song. SKYGGE wanted a melancholic but modern sound and the timbre of Mariamas voice matched perfectly. Flutes and detuned and distorted guitars were generated by Flow Machines, and SKYGGE added some beats and deep bass

Hello Shadow: Stromae was fascinated by the possibilities of the software, and he fed the machines with his own influences: scores and audio stems in the Cape Verdian style. He selected his favorite melodies and stems from what Flow Machines had generated. Those fragments were put together and the song was built step by step. Stromae sung a vocal line that followed the generated melody, and he improvised on the pre-chorus. The choir in the chorus was also generated. When the song was ready for final production, it was sent to singer Kiesza who loved it. She wrote lyrics inspired by the tale The Shadow. Kiesza envisioned a happy, shiny shadow. A most unusual and characteristic feature of this song are the first four notes of the verse, which evoke the image of a ball bouncing and rolling 

Mafia Love was composed by SKYGGE with Flow Machines, inspired by pop of the 60. It is almost a direct composition by Flow Machines, with very little human edits to the melody. The song has its internal logic, like all good songs. It tells a story, though unconventionally due to its rich structure, with almost no repetition. This absence of repetition sounds seem strange at first, but the song becomes an ear worm after hearing it a couple of times. The song was rendered with a generated voice from an a cappella recording of Curtis Clarke Jr., and a generated piano track from a stem by SKYGGE

Paper Skin is an interesting, indirect use of AI. This song was built from the song Mafia Love. JATA picked up fragments of Mafia Love for the verse and the pre-chorus. He then composed a new chorus fitting those fragments. Ash Workman added some sounds from Mafia Love in the intro and in the bridge. Paper Skin is an offshoot of Mafia Love, illustrating how a melodic line can travel ears and be transformed according to unpredictable inspirations of musicians

Multi Mega Fortune: Michael Lovett from NZCA Lines fed Flow Machines with his own audio stems, vocals, drums loops, bass and keyboards, as well as lead sheets in the style of Brit pop. A lot of material was generated, both songs and stems. Michael Lovett and SKYGGE curated the results, and Lovett wrote lyrics inspired by the tale The Shadow. The result is a synth-pop catchy tune with a distinctive gimmick generated by Flow Machines, that runs throughout the song

Valise: When Stromae came to the studio we tried several ideas based on six lead sheets generated with Flow Machines. Between sessions, SKYGGE explored one of those directions and generated a vocal line from the song Tous les mˆemes, a former song of Stromae, uploaded on Flow Machines. The lyrics produced from the generated vocals meant something different from the original song by Stromae, but they were relevant, since they addressed the theme of luggage” (Valise, in French). Stromae liked the song, but at the time we focused on the song Hello Shadow and left Valise aside for a while. SKYGGE asked the French band The Pirouettes” to sing the melody instead of using the generated voice. The Pirouettes sung in sync with the generated voice by Stromae. This song bears an uncommon yet catchy chord progression and structure. Like other songs from the album, first hearings may sound strange, but after a couple of listenings, the song becomes an ear worm. One can hear the generated choir laughing on top of this unsual chord progression

Médéric Collignon, an amazing jazz trumpet player, came to the lab full of energy, with his own audio tracks, mostly jazz progressions played on a Rhodes piano, and some bass synths. SKYGGE also brought some hip-hop grooves, and the two musicians worked on a funk pop in the style of the 80s. The generated lead sheet was simple but contained harmonic twists that M´ed´eric digs as a jazz composer. He selected chromatic modulations that he often uses in his own scores. When they generated audio stems for the song from all the audio material, the output was messy but sounded very exciting. In particular, the groovy Rhodes generated from M´ed´erics own recordings reinforced the funkiness of the song. Pachet and SKYGGE wrote lyrics inspired by the nonsensical words of the generated voice, in the style of surrealist poetry. They asked the young and talented jazz singer Camille Bertault to sing the song. She also performed a scat-like improvisation, echoing the trumpet solo. In Andersens tale, the Shadow is hiding in the coat of a cake woman”, hence the title

Themes from older soundtracks are often more melodic than recent ones. Today, film scores are more often based on textures than melodies. Inspired by those old soundtracks, Flow Machines generated a catchy theme for this song (see Figure 18). The whistling was backed up by airports sounds generated to match the song. Pierre Jouan from the pop band Catastrophe” sung another song, from which the machine generated the voice heard in the song

Je vais te manger: Laurent Bardainne came to the studio with his audio stems, marimba, synth bass patterns and compositions in the style of 80’s pop. Flow Machines generated a few songs, and Laurent selected the good parts. Laurent and SKYGGE built the song in a few hours. They left each other without knowing what to do with their song. For over a week, SKYGGE woke up every morning with this melody stuck in his head. Looking in depth at the generated lead sheet, one can see a harmonic twist that no one would have thought of. This twist pushes the melody up and down over an audacious modulation (see Figure19). SKYGGE and Laurent asked Sarah Yu to sing. The song is about a woman who says she will eat our souls and that we are lost

The Cold Song is a well-known part of the opera King Arthur by Purcell. It has been sung by many singers in many styles (Sting, Klaus Nomi). For this cover, SKYGGE was inspired by artists such as Andre Bratten, Anne Clarke and Johann Johannsson, who have used machines to produce melancholic moods. The voice is generated from an a cappella recording of singer Kyte. It turns out that the generation produced many A I A I, by coincidence. In this song cover, everything was produced by Flow Machines, and there was no manual production