Google’s artificial intelligence has composed a new piece by Nirvana

Kurt Cobain's death is a bitter morsel that Nirvana fans still can't swallow. The historical group, creator of the success of grunge, sadly ended its discography with the loss of the singer at only 27 years old. Today , Google's artificial intelligence has created a brand new Nirvana, based on the unmistakable style of the group . This was announced by Over the Bridge , a Toronto-based non-profit organization that has been dealing with mental health in the music world for years.

Nirvana: a new song composed by artificial intelligence

It is called " Drowned in the sun " and is the "new piece" of Nirvana composed by the artificial intelligence of Google. The song strongly recalls the style of the leading grunge group, recalling the style of historical pieces such as Come As You Are and Bleach . Not only that: even the text seems to come out of Cobain's own pen, both for the issues addressed and for the images evoked . Apart from the voice, which belongs to the frontman of a Nirvana tribute band, everything we hear in the song is the work of AI .

The song is part of the Lost Tapes of the 27 Club project which collects songs created by computers in the style of all the musicians who are part of the "Club dei 27". In the collection we find pieces made ad hoc in the style of Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin. The AI ​​is able to produce chords, riffs and melodies in the style of the late artists , trying to answer the question: what if they could write another song?

Behind the initiative is the non-profit association Over the Bridge , a community active in the music industry that puts the spotlight on the importance of mental health in the world of artists, and offers support during the recovery process. The organization fights against the normalization of depression in artists and the use of substances . The life of the big names in music is made up of long journeys, months away from home and continuous promotions, resulting in the need to always stay in character and face inhumane working hours.

The Lost Tapes of the 27 Club project by Over the Bridge. Source: losttapesofthe27club
The Lost Tapes of the 27 Club project by Over the Bridge. Source: losttapesofthe27club

The project aims to try to give justice to the musicians that the world has lost to depression, by pointing out that it is wrong to romanticize such an important illness. By creating an album that the club of 27 has never been able to make, Over the Bridge also wants to encourage every professional in the world of music (and beyond) to ask for the help they need to face an invisible evil.

Google Magenta: the AI ​​that composes songs

Behind the club's album of 27 is Magenta, a Google AI software that composes songs by an artist after having “listened” to her works. The project, which is open-source and in continuous development, wants to explore the role of machine learning in the creative process, using, among other things, neural networks to compose pieces or transcribe them. Magenta is distributed both as a Python library and as a Javascript API (Magenta.js).

The application used for the album was MidiMe , which allows the upload of midi tracks as a training set to produce sounds as similar to the loaded tracks. To make a single piece by an artist, 20 to 30 songs were used. O'Connor, one of the founders of Over the Bridge , explained that in the training process no whole songs were loaded, but riffs, solos or choruses grouped and used from time to time. This allowed us to "not confuse" the software and produce very valid passages, from which those who composed the final piece were extracted.

An example of Magenta's MidiMe, Google's artificial intelligence that has composed songs by Nirvana, Amy Winehouse, and many others. Source: Magenta Tensorflow
A demo of MidiMe of Magenta, the artificial intelligence of Google that has composed songs by Nirvana, Amy Winehouse, and many others. Source: Magenta Tensorflow

Magenta offers a great variety of tools for artists. Among the most interesting web apps is DrumBot, which allows you to create music with an artificial drummer who creates the base above the melody you are playing. Runn, on the other hand, is a musical game in which the player must complete platforming levels to hear the entire song. The peculiarity lies in the fact that each level is generated in real-time based on the uploaded song, and is therefore unique in its kind.

Also in this case the technological advancement managed to amaze us. Until a few years ago we would never have thought that a machine could be able to create art, simulating an existing style so well. The awareness that behind the work there is a software takes away a lot of the emotion of a “human” composition, but it gives us so much wonder and curiosity: what will be the next limit to be overcome?

The article Google's artificial intelligence composed a new piece of Nirvana comes from Tech CuE | Close-up Engineering .