What will AI music sound like?

What an effect. The four songs that were released a few days ago under the title "The Lost Tapes of the 27 Club" sound like recordings by Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison with the Doors, Kurt Cobain with Nirvana and Amy Winehouse. New songs by long-dead music greats often emerge from archives. However, this has composed an artificial intelligence (AI) from Google called Magenta. The music was created with digital instruments, controlled by computers. The texts are also the result of artificial intelligence. Only the singing is real. And because it comes from people in cover bands who specialize in imitating their role models, it sounds pretty similar.

The Canadian organization "Over the Bridge" is behind the project. Its members are committed to mental health in the music world, an industry that is disproportionately prone to depression, anxiety and addictions. This is exactly what the campaign is supposed to draw attention to. Hence the title with the lost tapes of the "27 Club". This myth is based on the coincidence that so many pop culture geniuses died at the age of 27. It all started in the early 1970s after Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison all died of drugs and alcohol at that age. Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse also fell victim to their mental health problems at the age of 27.

There was already a calculator that painted like Rembrandt

"The Lost Tapes" is not the first AI project to imitate deceased artists. There was already music in the style of Bach, Beethoven and the Beatles, a computer that learned to paint like Rembrandt, there are even machines that create their own music, art and texts. Such projects are usually digital circus horses that simulate creativity, the highest achievement of the human mind.

In addition to the psychological problems of musicians, the organization "Over the Bridge" wanted to draw attention to the fact that artificial intelligence is far from competing with the human mind. The process of writing the four pieces together with the algorithms took a good year. The team of programmers, producers and sound engineers spent another six months in the studio. A good television studio band that produces such pieces as parodies for musically talented comedians like Stefan Raab or Jan Böhmermann needs an afternoon for something like this.

The project "The Lost Tapes" proves less the creative achievement than the inability of artificial intelligences. As a rule, they can do two things better than humans: recognize patterns and calculate probabilities. The four pieces are therefore nothing more than probability calculations on musical patterns. The real show of strength, however, was done by the producers, who worked out four coherent songs from many set pieces that the AI ​​provided them. And yes, the vocals may be mediocre. But it ensures that brains trained in pop music close the acceptance gap between machine and music with the least resistance.