Will AI ever be able to write a good song?

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  • @famouspatrick  Jan 2019

    I ran across this great post by Nick Cave answering that question, and I think he gave a great answer.


    I agree with most of what he says, but I think that, in a way, it is irrelevent. The need to create music (indeed, art) lives in the human spirit in a way that is different from the need for an algorithm to follow it's programing.

  • @tesla3090  Jan 2019

    I think it depends on what music is for. AI will likely outpace human songwriting skill, but humans won't stop making music.

    What it will impact, is the commercial side of music. When you can press a button and have an AI generate a soundtrack that perfectly fits your project, the need for human composers will largely disappear. After all, if you're a small production company, would you rather hire a composer and/or negotiate rights to music, or press a button and have unique, tailored music for your project without any copyright ambiguity?

    Essentially, human composers will probably become more akin to celebrity endorsements with only a few, high-profile musicians getting picked to develop scores as a marketing gimmick. Indie-studios will likely not ever bother with that. I imagine this will also spill into pop-music songwriting as well.

  • @tesla3090  Jan 2019

    That said, people will still make music, and live performance will probably always require human musicians to a degree, (I think people are only willing to watch robots right now due to the novelty factor).

    Music will probably just become more like it was in the past, a communal, mostly live exercise.

  • @js6 Jan 2019

    First we need to know what counts as a good song.

  • @brownium  Jan 2019

    I don't know if Nick is right or wrong, but his answer is itself a wonderful work of creativity.

  • @jamkar  Jan 2019

    AI will already have your genetic blueprint and neurotransmitter recipe. The rest will be machine learning.

  • @oddbod  Jan 2019

    I thought the title was a typo and youโ€™d meant to write Will I ever be able to write a great song ๐Ÿ˜€

  • @thelowestbitter  Jan 2019


    This album came out last year and made a big deal out of being composed using a program called Flow Machines, but in reality the use of AI seems quite limited. Each song is a "collaboration" between the software and human songwriters, and it's the humans who sifted through the huge mess of progressions and melodies generated by the programme and actually stitched them together and made them songs.

    I was expecting the record to be an interesting mess, but in reality I just found most of the album quite dull. I probably liked the song I've linked to at the bottom the most, but if you take a read of the credits and production methods it basically sounds like this software they've spent years developing is just a higher-spec version of something like Music Memos.

    "Featuring Michael Lovett
    Composed by Michael Lovett, SKYGGE, Ash Workman with Flow Machines, inspired by American R&B
    Lyrics: Michael Lovett
    Audio stems generated: drum

  • @thelowestbitter  Jan 2019

    ... Audio stems generated: drums, bass, keyboards
    Performance synths and lead vox: Michael Lovett
    Mixed by Ash Workman and Fred Decรจs
    Produced by Ash Workman


    The first day at Ash Workmanโ€™s studio, Michael Lovett from NZCA Lines was there. We played with Flow Machines. Michael fed the machine with his own audio stems, vocals, drums loops, bass and keyboards, as well as lead sheets in the style of Brit pop. We generated some material, both songs and stems, and kept the best ones."


  • @axl  Jan 2019

    @thelowestbitter To be fair, Music Memos probably also took years to develop.

    In my day job I work with engineers who use deep learning. So while I don't fully understand the math behind it I think I have a pretty good idea about the state of the art in so-called AI and I can't help but notice the huge gap between the fantasies of Ray Kurzweil and countless marketing people and journalists and what is seems actually possible.

    Given the availability of data to train music composing models, what AI has delivered so far is amazingly little.

    Handling and playing with ambiguity is what humans excel at and interestingly this is exactly the thing algorithms handle worst. My guess is that this is not due to lack of calculating power but to mathematical and paradigms and laws of nature. Sure, we have the iPad now but where is the Warp Drive?!

    I still see a bright future for aspiring young human composers! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • @vikkiflawith Jan 2019

    Short answer: No.

    Long answer: No.

  • @klaus  Jan 2019

    From Wikipedia: "The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type any given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare."

    So I'm afraid it is possible that AI will one day write a great song. I only hope I'm old and deaf before that happens. ๐Ÿ˜€

  • @rainchaser  Jan 2019

    It will never replace humans, AIs don't have brains and hearts.

  • @tawny249  Jan 2019

    I completely read that as "AL" at first, and was like "says you Weird Al can't write a good song! Feel my wrath! ....oh wait." ๐Ÿ˜

  • @rainchaser  Jan 2019

    @tawny249 I thought of that too lol but I had more than one Al that I had in mind!

  • @mdavisto  Jan 2019

    Short answer: yes.

    Longer answer: by the time the singularity occurs, the fact that they can compose a song is unlikely to be of any relevance at all.

    I see it like this: there are far better composers than me in the world. But I still like to make music. I don't have to be the best at it in order for the activity to be meaningful.

  • @lvgd09  Jan 2019

    I thought AI is what today's music is, hmmm, might be wrong on that.

    Computers can generate random numbers. I suppose if you had enough if conditions in the program it could possibly happen. Otherwise = random gibberish.

  • @mdavisto  Jan 2019

    @lvgd09 We're actually further along than that. There are several companies that offer computer-composed music for use in media, royalty-free. Pricing is around $1 for personal projects, or $20 for commercial applications.

    Is it the greatest music ever written? No. Is it fit for purpose? Absolutely yes.

    And the interesting thing to me is that my issues with the result are not to do with the notes, it's more the synth they push the midi through. The compositions themselves are fine. It's sonically a little flat because none of them are licensing sounds from Native Instruments and the like - yet. I see that happening in the next year.

  • @quork  Jan 2019

    Itโ€™s crazy that there have never been more people making music at the same time as revenues have plummeted. Add in AI, samples, streaming services, home studios and direct sales platforms, and itโ€™s fascinating to see where the industry will go.

  • @andygetch  Jan 2019

    I'm waiting for Weird Al to write an AI song @tawny249 and @rainchaser LOL

  • @tawny249  Jan 2019

    Well, I did some digging and while there aren't AI songs by Weird Al, there is this little nugget:


  • @mdavisto  Jan 2019

    @quork Not crazy at all. There is a vast oversupply problem. The market responds by devaluing the product.

    Honestly, if you look at human history, music as a commodity is a brief, ludicrous flash in the pan centered entirely around the LP. The slide back to normal begins almost as soon as copying becomes trivial.

    I think a Patreon-style model is more in line with how humans have always viewed music. Before the LP, career musos needed patrons. The Internet provides an interesting way to find them.

  • @generalist Jan 2019

    With the current state of AI, not really. When AI evolves to the point that it goes way beyond passing the Turing Test and reaches the point where it can understand complex verbal and cultural nuances, it will be writing good songs. Or good poetry.

  • @atitlan  Jan 2019

    I think the music side is easier to crack than the lyrics. As composition, particularly within tightly defined genres, is rule based it is quite amenable to computer analysis. A lot of music (even good music) is already rehashing existing structures.

    Words are different, and a much harder nut to crack. A neural net may be able to sift through phrases that are commonly used together and generate something from that, but narrative context is important - even where a songwriter uses cut-up techniques, the ordering is significant and relies on wider experience. Current examples of Ai generated poetry are currently sub-Vogon in quality.

    If you were to get something lyrically cohesive, the algorithmic musical techniques can be applied to generate a melody and vocaloid can deliver the results.

    For me the lyrics are the key. But there's a lot of work going on in language analysis for voice recognition systems, so something could come out of that.

  • @thetau  Jan 2019

    "These are the Droids you're looking for... Move along"

  • @lvgd09  Jan 2019

    Thanks @mdavisto I understand.

    Band in a Box can generate a complete musical arrangement with melody and solo in just a few clicks. That said, I've never made good on that feature because it's just boring. However, I have used biab to create short 8 bar solos. It doesn't always do a good job but you can regenerate a few times until you get something you like.

  • @airbagtester  Jan 2019

    Do humans know what a good song is?
    Can a computer know what a good song is?

  • @markg  Jan 2019

    AI apparently is already composing Bro Country hits. Just enter the name of the truck and alcohol you want to endorse then hit the COMPOSE button.

  • @halfwalk  Jan 2019

    I think if we start hearing AI-composed songs all over the place, it will only add value to human-made music due to scarcity. It might even give rise to a new era of acoustic punk, that could potentially eschew all electronics entirely, that is never recorded and only ever performed live, etc.

    Some people consume art/music because it is a form of human-to-human expression. They want to understand the artist, to feel what the artist felt, imperfections and all. Imperfection is relatable; it is human.

    Without human expression, it's less art, and more just a product. And not everybody wants to consume product in place of music.

    But for the general public who might not be music enthusiasts, that product will certainly have a place. But let's not be in a rush to replace all human jobs just yet.

  • @klaus  Jan 2019

    This is not a great song, but it's surprisingly good for AI, no lyrics though:


    And it could be just an ad.

  • @gubna Jan 2019

    Without reading all of the article or above comments, Iโ€™ll just give my two cents in that AI will likely always lack core things only a human can express, or actually understand in an emotional way.

  • @lvgd09  Jan 2019

    @halfwalk I can remember before drum machines. I told my son it's talking over a drum machine and he told me "I don't care".
    @klaus They're taking my job!
    @atitlan I've used vocaloid in 5090. Interesting results.

  • @scottlake  Jan 2019

    @mdavisto โ€˜s point about people paying en masse for music being a thin slice in history is right on the money literally AND figuratively.

    Iโ€™ve never been a songwriter to make money at it. Itโ€™s just fun and works and kneads my brain in a way that nothing else does. Iโ€™m actually afraid of what might happen to my enjoyment of creating if I did try to make money with music.

  • @lvgd09  Jan 2019

    I mentioned band in a box and have been messing with the AI feature with some fairly decent results. In other words, the program can write a complete song with melody and solo. There are some snags and I taught myself how to make it work. I would explain in details if requested but let me just say that I use 12 bars and set the key of the song. In the melodist section, you tell it what you want. By default, the program recognizes the key and if you change song form from AABA to none it will write with the bars that you specified (12 bars in my case). In my testing, it writes (optional) an intro part and repeats the 12 bars 3 times. The second time around it solos and then for the final 12 bars it goes back to the chords and melody. I'm using a good soundfont (the best general soundfont I could find) and it still sounds midi but good. Great results if you import into your DAW and sweeten up the instruments. However, it's not my way to write lyrics to a melody. I might be pra

  • @lvgd09  Jan 2019

    double post, excuse me I was trying to fix the above and failed miserably. I'm just going to let it go.

  • @quintonbarnes  Feb 2019

    Hopefully not, or I'll really be screwed!

  • @sheamiejay  Feb 2019

    I thought you were talking about a guy named Alan or Al for short. ๐Ÿ˜

  • @yam655 Feb 2019

    The question of whether strong AI will be able to create great songs is irrelevant. The technology isn't there and won't be for some time.

    Instead, there's the line between the current-level AI and the human artists. Right now, we're at a point where you can take the information for a lead sheet and have the computer sing and accompany the music.

    But we have people actively working on computer-generated poetry. If it is human-directed and AI generated, one person can increase their output significantly. We already have the oversupply problem and new releases can't even get out of the shadow of the past long enough to be heard. It can get much, much worse.

    Personally, as someone who had 24 releases last year, I'm looking forward to it. I would like to release at a truly inhuman pace.

  • @boyatheart  Feb 2019

    If AI-written songs enable accountants to increase profits significantly then it won't matter if they are better at writing songs than humans or not.
    The question really should be "Will AI be able to replace songwriters who would otherwise have to be paid?"

    Humans will always write better songs because of that little thing called a soul. Machines may well write songs that reach a wider audience, but that audience won't be so engaged with it IMO.

  • @elliottlawrence Feb 2019

    This reminds me of that scene in "Her" where the operating system is like "Oh, here's this song I just composed!" and it's this peaceful piano music. I truly think anything a human can learn, so can a computer, it's just a matter of time. What that'll mean for the music industry or hobbyists like ourselves though, it's hard to say.

  • @haim  Feb 2019

    It is up to us, I think in general, over-technologising aspirations, in the wrong hands, makes this earth less beautiful. The AI buzz is gaining momentum, people don't see that in a few years there will be no need for so many human beings... thats a bit of a problem.

  • @paulhenry  Feb 2019

    Of course AI will be able to write a good song, and with apologies to Mr. Cave, it will be able to write a great one.

    But it's important to realize that the topic question really isn't very interesting. The question assumes that "greatness" is some property of the song. The "greatness" of a song depends as much on who hears it. And whatever "greatness" means, surely it varies with history, society and culture, as well as varying between the judgement of any two different people!

    A more interesting question might be: What song do you think is great and why?

  • @timfatchen  Feb 2019

    I thought a lot of the high-rotation radio stuff was AI written! Well, it's sufficiently tedious... I do buy the monkeys typing shakespeare scenario, but I chortle at the amazing amount of rubbish which would also be generated.
    And from my own standpoint, I won't repeat, just go read what @axl & @klaus said, further up.

  • @themiller  Feb 2019

    This becomes a really important question as soon as I lose the A from AI.

  • @ustaknow Feb 2019

    Interesting topic that always come up and is good to have.

    I didn't read the link, since only interested in what happens "here" with all you good people, -- question/answer.

    The first response went right to "algorithm", "depends on what music is for".

    The thing is, "we" determine that, no "Program" manager, who determines what their audience determins.

    Memory, internalization, and pavlovian programming. I bought my first album after my first kick-ass party with, very loud volume music... had a GREAT time, associated that music with a "good time", -- determination made. Moreover, play that album at "LOW" volume..., it's not the same music, -- we are moved (literally) but the "presence" of the dB SPL.

    It's alway why a cutie-pie 4 yo singing "gingle bells" melts our hearts, -- or most.

    In opposition, and using a well known example, be at many funerals in a row... and have ALL "pat your left arm" (since most are Righty's), and then days, weeks, months later have someone greet you that way... -- see what mood you're in.

    There are as many good songs in the world as there are fingers and toes, and for some, there's only -- one.

    The "definitions" of good? ... you could not only not GIVE me the songs on the MTV play lists, you'd have to PAY me to take them and again, to listen to it... -- "good"?

    I'm surprised we haven't "killed each other" yet in the world, just based on this question ๐Ÿ˜‰ among the many others today.

    Human beings "like", pattern, repetition and predictability... go to a drum circle, and do a "heart beat"... wait 10mins, come back... pretty complex, until you break down each player/element/beat, -- syncopated in it's own dynamics. Well, if you like hand drums ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Algorithms... I've written 10's of thousands of lines of code since circa '95, "Ai" for QA... no self determination or -awareness yet ๐Ÿ˜€

  • @north Feb 2019

    The judgement will probably depend on what you appreciate in music. For me it has to do with the autenticity of the artist, so I cant see it happening. Muisc is more of a cultural conversation to me, and AI will never be able to communicate on any desireably deep level imho

  • @gubna Feb 2019

    I wrote a song about AI.

  • @jamkar  Feb 2019

    Found this interesting;
    Orchard Co-Founder Issues Warning To Music Industry: 'You're Probably Going To Be Replaced' https://news360.com/article/487126600

  • @stickyfingers Feb 2019

    AI can never truly replace a human songwriter. With that being said, I could foresee it being used to help with certain aspects of songwriting, but even then, it would need a human to re-appropriate whatever it spits out.

  • @torsten  Feb 2019

    My question would be if AI will ever be able to listen to a good song.

  • @quork  Feb 2019

    Whenever I see this thread I read it as โ€œWill I ever be able to write a good song?โ€ A sentiment I can regularly relate to.

  • @paulhenry  Feb 2019

    @quork, Yes! Same thing happens to me.
    @stickyfingers, never say never!
    @torsten: now THATโ€™s an interesting question.

  • @elesimo  Feb 2019

    @quork same here, and same feeling! ๐Ÿ˜

  • @robynmackenzie  Feb 2019

    I know this is a serious and intelligent thread but all I can think of is an algorithm that just pumps out weird synth loops and Inspirobot style lyrics like, "If you seek teeth, you will find garbage."

  • @ampersandman  Apr 17

    Saw this and had to think of this thread.
    This is pretty insane: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNNmB...

    A livestream of AI-generated Death Metal.
    โ€žNeural network generating technical death metal, via livestream 24/7 to infinity. Trained on Archspire with modified SampleRNN. Read more about our research into eliminating humans from metal: Generating Albums with SampleRNN to Imitate Metal, Rock, and Punk Bands.โ€œ

  • @chrishope Apr 17

    ..a human could always i believe improve it, ..it's a blood thang

  • @ustaknow Apr 18

    Ai algorithms are qualified.

    A random pull would not be.

    How and qualified text, differentiate from a random pull, or a qualified variable per the same?

    [<--- this "auto-corrected" itself, "spell checked" ? the sentence, into/with/using two entirely different words here *FYI. This is not what I wrote as hit "post/speak/save". I watched this occur in other posts, after FAWM closed, --- I wrote, posted, then saw the Text "switch" to a word salad. It took several tries to correct whatever Bug was engaged, - FYI. I will leave this as-is and if whomever engages mods, can consider it. There may be other as well, but point this one out.] [It could be my "fantastic" Google Chrome Book, being way to helpful in it's Corp Spyware, too ๐Ÿ˜€ ] [Moving on, such as it is now ๐Ÿ˜ ... ... ]

    When, if a collection of subroutines of text can make deliberate abstract connections ... then? Well, first it'd have to plug itself in and turn itself on. Then, it would have to have a need to listen to something it made an intimate association with, relationship. And, then... etc.

    Then I could know what my iPhone preferred to listen to, pay my monthly bill for itself and when the argument of Metal or Bach.

    We don't even turn ourselves on, nor have an off switch... and yet, too, not Ai, if even "i" ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜ --- what if Music, Song was waaaayyy more than what we think it is?

    Ah, yes, well, -- that may be a bit to abstract ๐Ÿ˜€

  • @lemonstar Apr 28

    Altered Images "Happy Birthday" - does that count?

  • @lowhum May 16

    It will if it makes money.

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