AI program Magenta has made the impossible possible by using artificial intelligence to produce “new” music by Nirvana, Amy Winehouse, Jimmy Hendrix and The Doors for a project raising awareness on mental health.
The futuristic move was spearheaded by Toronto organization Over The Bridge and is a compilation of “new” songs from musicians who died at the age of 27, commonly known as the “The 27 Club”.
The compilation is named Drowned In The Sun – Lost Tapes Of The 27 Club and will be used to shed light on musicians’ struggles with depression and mental health issues.
“What if all these musicians that we love had mental health support?” Sean O’Connor, a member of the board of directors for Over The Bridge told Rolling Stone. “Somehow in the music industry, [depression] is normalised and romanticised … Their music is seen as authentic suffering.”
Listen to ‘Drowned in the Sun’ – Lost Tapes of the 27 Club (Nirvana influence):
The tracks that feature on the compilation are made through AI program Magenta, which analyses an artist’s previous work in order to learn how to compose like them. The program studies the precise notes and harmonies on songs to “learn” what made the band’s tunes so iconic and aims to replicate this theme.
Funnily enough, the program had a lot of trouble analyzing Kurt Cobain’s free and aggressive style of playing the guitar, with the AI originally outputting a wall of distortion instead of something similar to his signature melodies
While the track and the lyrics are created solely through the AI program, Eric Hogan the frontman of Atlanta’s Nevermind: The Ultimate Tribute To Nirvana sung the vocals.
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“If you look at the last quote-unquote Nirvana release, which was, ‘You Know You’re Right,’ this has the same type of vibe,” Hogan said.
“Kurt would just sort of write whatever the hell he felt like writing. And if he liked it, then that was a Nirvana song. I can hear certain things in the arrangement of [‘Drowned in the Sun’] like, ‘OK, that’s kind of an ‘In Utero’ vibe right here or a ‘Nevermind’ vibe right here. … I really understood the AI of it.”
The song is saying, ‘I’m a weirdo, but I like it,’” he says. “That is total Kurt Cobain right there. The sentiment is exactly what he would have said. ‘The sun shines on you, but I don’t know how’ — that’s great.”
Over The Bridge says that their aim of releasing Lost Tapes of the 27 Club is to help industry insiders get the mental health support they need. Their website offers support services and feature some frightening statistics, saying that those in the music industry are twice as likely to commit suicide as compared to those who aren’t.
“To show the world what’s been lost to this mental health crisis, we’ve used artificial intelligence to create the album the 27 Club never had the chance to. Through this album, we’re encouraging more music industry insiders to get the mental health support they need, so they can continue making the music we all love for years to come,” they wrote on their website.
The song ‘Drowned in the Sun’ focusses on a Nirvana influence, but there are three other tracks the organisation have released named ’The Roads are Alive’, ‘Man I know’, and’ ’You’re Gonna Kill Me’ which are inspired by Amy Winehouse, Jimmy Hendrix and The Doors.
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