How does AI fit into the music scene?
Lately, I’ve been writing about how Data Science and Artificial Intelligence are connected to my interests. Music has always been an art form that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated so I was excited to see how AI would fit into it. Even as I right this, I’m listening to a Synthwave mix as I usually do when I’m working. Synthwave is a very fitting genre for this article because it is electronically produced and the themes of the genre are on the future and interactions between man and technology.
Can computers learn music? On one hand, there is something very human and emotional about music. On the other hand, in recent times, some music (namely pop) can almost seem algorithmic in its construction and production.
So how and what can do artificial intelligence do in the music world?
Let’s get into it.
Artificial Intelligence for Music Production
Artificial Intelligence can be used to generate music. There has always been some fascination with computers playing music. Your first time coming across a self-playing piano can be quite a jarring experience. In this case, it is not a recorded machine but the computer using music it has listened to and creating new music from what it has learned. Some researchers have create a free website to check out mess around with AI music production. They also explain their process in how they creating a model that is capable of producing novel music. It’s great stuff, check it out at https://openai.com/blog/jukebox/.
They place lyrics over the AI generated songs and have many selections as to the genres and the style of artist the computer has learned from.
Artificial Intelligence as an Expressive Medium
Some artists are using AI in their music. This is usually a very supervised process where the artists are picking which sounds the computer produces and where and how to place them. A song that is a great example of this is Eternal by Holly Herndon, where Holly and her bandmates coordinated the use of AI to create a powerful and haunting song.
Here is a link to the song on YouTube:
Artificial Intelligence in Music Recommendation
This is one area that most people are familiar with: recommender systems. With the unfathomably large amount of music that is being produced and available for listening, recommender systems seek to make the task of navigating and finding music that matches your tastes easier. Platforms for listening like SoundCloud and Spotify use many different algorithms to help users find music they might like based on their previous listening history. Some of these algorithms are making recommendations based on the artists and genres a user enjoys. Other algorithms take into account what listeners with similar tastes to the user enjoy and make recommendations to music they enjoy. Even as I listen to my Synthwave mix now, I’m being recommended many different Synthwave and LoFi mixes on the side bar.
It’s interesting to see how Artificial Intelligence is being used in the Music Industry. I especially enjoyed learning about and listening to AI generated music although it did give me an uneasy feeling, especially Eternal (the song linked above). I am also appreciative of recommender systems as they have led me to discovering new artists that have found homes in my everyday listening repertoire.