You are going to love today's blog post.
Or you're going to hate it.
There's no room in between. On the old 1-5 scale, it's either a “1” or a “5.”
That's because it messes with the very forces of the universe. It meddles with the primal forces of nature.
With this handy list of blog topic ideas, your radio station's staff will never have writer's block again.
In this case, the music and the artists that made Classic Rock great.
The very technology that we talk about so often on this blog – Artificial Intelligence or AI – is making it possible to resurrect musicians that died well before their time. Nearly three years ago, I blogged about holographic technology being used in theaters (pre-COVID, of course) by artists as diverse as Roy Orbison and Ronnie James Dio.
The story and the results of this science project are covered in Rolling Stone earlier this month in a story by Kory Grow – “In Computero: Hear How AI Software Wrote a ‘New” Nirvana Song.”
Grow follows the exploits of a project called “Lost Tapes of the 27 Club” put together by an organization called Over the Bridge out of Toronto. The “27 Club” refers to the young age when many iconic rockers passed away – among them, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Jim Morrison, and of course, Kurt Cobain.
Over the Bridge is an organization that addresses mental health and recovery in the music industry, a worthy endeavor as we know all too well.
(For a more extensive list of the members of “The 27 Club,” go here.)
The team that collaborated on combining analog creativity with digital magic utilized as many as 30 songs by each featured artist. The software focused on analyzing vocals, chord progressions, guitar riffs, drum patterns, and lyrics to allow AI technology to “Frankenstein” songs by several “27 Club” artists.
Depending on your ear – and your point of view – the project is a hit. Or at least it produced new “music” that bears a striking and eerie resemblance to the real thing.
Or does it?
According to Rolling Stone, the AI engine is Google's program, Magenta. In the case of all their songs, including the Nirvana-esque production, “Drowned in the Sun,” the producers used tribute band singers to mimic the vocals. From there, the software and a team of people were tasked with pulling it together.
Can AI replace actual musicians?
Here's “Drowned in the Sun.”
A rep for Lemmon Entertainment, Michael Scriven doesn't think so:
“There’s an inordinate amount of human hands at the beginning, middle and end to create something like this. A lot of people may think [AI] is going to replace musicians at some point, but at this point, the number of humans that are required just to get to a point where a song is listenable is actually quite significant.”
The Doors and Jimi Hendrix “tributes” have both been removed from Grow's article as well as on YouTube. The Doors-ish song, “The Roads Are Alive” came closest – to my ear – of recapturing the sound of the band and its mercurial lead singer.
Here's the Amy Winehouse effort, “Man, I Know.”
The Over The Bridge fundraising effort is being supported by Canadian journalist and music savant, Alan Cross. A trio of radio stations is also participating.
Comments on the Rolling Stone story are mostly negative. Here is a representative one:
And you can use the “comments” section below to go off on this project (or me) yourself.
More than a decade ago, we took the family to Paris – my first time in France. On the advice of the late Tim Davis, we took multiple trains and busses to a side of the city where the famous Pere Lachaise Cemetery is located. Some of the most famous people in the world are buried there, including composer Frederic Chopin and writer Oscar Wilde. But it is Jim Morrison's gravesite that is constantly deluged by flowers and other memorabilia. His is one of the few that is fenced off to keep tourists out. Yet, every day, hundreds jump the fence to leave tributes.
Hopefully, in light of this project, it's been calm there.