September 28, 2016

Listen to "Daddy's Car" — which is what you get when you ask artificial intelligence to make a new Beatles song.

The explanation is kind of confusing:
The song in question was created by researchers at Sony, who used the company’s Flow Machines software to analyze a database of some 13,000 lead sheets (basic scores that record the melody and harmony of tracks) from different genres around the world. The software writes its own melodies, and a human composer, Benoît Carré, was drafted to turn material into a fully produced track. He simply inputted a desired style of music (in this case The Beatles) and got to work.
So how much was software and how much was the human being, Benoît Carré? I'm willing to believe it's mostly the machine, because the lyrics are a cut-up jumble of words — reminding me of Tristan Tzara's "To Make a Dadaist Poem" (1920):
Take a newspaper.
Take a pair of scissors.
Choose an article as long as you are planning to make your poem.
Cut out the article.
Then cut out each of the words that make up this article and put them in a bag.
Shake it gently.
Then take out the scraps one after the other in the order in which they left the bag.
Copy conscientiously.
The poem will be like you.
And here are you a writer, infinitely original and endowed with a sensibility that is charming though beyond the understanding of the vulgar.
When did The Beatles sing about "daddy"? The answer is twice. 1. "Back in the U.S.S.R.": "Take me to your daddy's farm." 2. In "She's Leaving Home": "She breaks down and cries to her husband 'Daddy, our baby's gone.'" (A woman calls her own husband "Daddy.")


PB said...

Not Beatles. More like Beach Boys

David said...

" (A woman calls her own husband "Daddy.")"

A lot of women get called Mom or Mother by their husbands, though not in the sophisticated territories. So turnabout is fair play.

(Perhaps they should get extra credit for emotional honesty.)

Ann Althouse said...

Meade overheard me playing it, without knowing what it was, and said it sounded like The Beatles. He liked it too.

Terry said...

McCartney's lyrics were sometimes a cut-up jumble of words.
If I ever get out of here\
Thought of giving it all away\
To a registered charity\
All I need is a pint a day\
If I ever get out of here\
if we ever get out of here\
Well, the rain exploded\
With a mighty crash\
As we fell into the sun\
And the first one said to the second one there\
'I hope you're having fun'\
Band on the run\
Band on the run.

Ann Althouse said...

"A lot of women get called Mom or Mother by their husbands, though not in the sophisticated territories. So turnabout is fair play"

It sounds like beatnik-speak to me.

"Daddy, You've Been on My Mind."

Joe said...

"a human composer, Benoît Carré, was drafted to turn material into a fully produced track"

This is a fraud.

Clyde said...

I wonder if the AI decided on the backmasking at the end, or the human composer?

PBandJ_Ombudsman said...

Is it rude to ask if the time for blogs has come and gone?

As best as I can tell there aren't blogs better than Althouse. But, I'm not sure this sort of quaintness is the future. Sure this post, for example, is nifty. But, that's a low bar.

We live in a world where you can turn on a twitter feed of many hundreds of really smart and interesting POVs. That fire hose is pretty cool.

Jack Wayne said...

So if you go to YouTube and listen to Carre, you find out this crappy song sounds like a lot of his crappy songs....

mpeirce said...

Sound more like the beach boys to me.

tim maguire said...

It's not very good.

rhhardin said...

It's not intelligence. It's a Markov process.

Take a database of real songs, ask what bits of the database matches what's gone before best, and choose the next bit with probabilities favoring goodness of match.

There's nothing intelligent about it except the programmer intuiting what sort of probability scheme will work out best. They undoubtedly tried many.

The same trick is used to generate text in a given author's style. Music doesn't have to make sense, so it's even easier.

Paddy O said...

"Is it rude to ask if the time for blogs has come and gone?"

I don't think the time for blogs is over. I do think the blog craze is long over. Blogs certainly have their worth, a way of sketching thoughts, giving immediate longer-form feedback or dialogue. Something that academic journals, books, or other media formats can't do.

tim in vermont said...

It sounded Beatle-esque in spots, in spots it reminded me of the end of Blazing Saddles.

Christopher said...

Agree it sounds (briefly) Beatle-esque here and there, but overall it sounded like a lot of Jpop I've heard.

Jon Ericson said...

Pretty poor, It would have helped if they had not tried to blend the early/best/late altogether.

Jon Ericson said...

Not trying to ruin the blog here, to set the record straight.

Jon Ericson said...

That would be Roll over Beethoven, vs. the entirety of Revolver, vs. Let it be.

Jon Ericson said...

That is, all together, or All Together, another beatles tune, (all together now!)

gadfly said...

Not enough Beatles bounce in the instrumentation. Sounds more like the Ray Conniff Singers.

Jon Ericson said...

No, no no! come together. (over me) (Ew)

Char Char Binks said...

Not bad for a first effort.

Lennon used an easier method than the Dada poem cut-and-paste for "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite", which "Daddy's Car" resembles a bit. I do hear Beach Boys-is vocals on this, as I do on "Back in the USSR", of course, and a lot of Harrison.

Jon Ericson said...

Confused? Me too! Too many deplorables on this site commenting.

Will Cate said...

My son sent that to me a couple of days ago.

It left me wondering how differently I would have perceived it had I not known in advance that an AI "wrote" it.

Dave in Tucson said...

I guess it sounds vaguely Beatle-esque, mostly because of the harmonies (and of course, the backwards tape bit at the end).

But if you want to hear what a good Beatles pastiche sounds like, check out the songs Neil Innes wrote for the All You Need is Cash Beatles parody. Ouch!, for instance is really very good.

Char Char Binks said...

Neill Innes is my favorite almost-Python and my favorite not-quite-Beatle.

mgarbowski said...

Count me as another who heard more Beach Boys than Beatles.

Jon Ericson said...

Sorry, I'm not acting depressed enough.
I'll try to do worse.

Jon Ericson said...

Must be movie time. (sigh)

DavidD said...

Didn't Paul McCartney already do this one with Wings?

The Back Seat of My Car

And when we finished driving
We can say we were late in arriving
And listen to her daddy's song
We believe that we can't be wrong

Jon Ericson said...

O.T. blast from the past

Bricap said...

A little insomnia, so I'm poking around to see if there were ever any other daddy mentions by the Beatles, because I just have to, so forgive the indulgence here...

I run across "Nobody's Child" from their time with Tony Sheridan.

John and Ringo did a home tape that had "Daddy's Little Sunshine Boy."

They covered Chuck Berry's Sweet Little Sixteen on Live at the BBC.

The Back Seat of My Car ended up on Wings' Ram album after not making it onto Let It Be, apparently.

Yes, Back in the USSR and She's Leaving Home, those are the two that really count in this.

Good night.

Jon Ericson said...

Good night, Bricap!
Sweet dreams!

ken in tx said...

In 30s and 40s popular music, women called their men Daddy quite frequently. However, in some songs it is obvious the woman is singing about a Sugar Daddy, i.e. "My Heart Belongs to Daddy".

Mrs. Bear said...

Mildly interesting, but I think neither Paul McCartney nor Brian Wilson need fear for their jobs....nor even Ringo.

JamesB.BKK said...

My wife - no beatnik or Southern girl - has called me daddy since becoming pregnant with our first. I always thought it was a clever technique to influence my thinking / dissuade me about shopping other family setup opportunities.

Andrew Pardue said...

Well that sucked in Beach Boys harmony meet Revolution # 9 kind of way. My understanding is that the computer provides a selection of song elements to the human composer who then selects what works best with what he has already. The AI probably has learning algorithms that try to learn from the composers selections. it really does sound as if someone took Revolution # 9 to Brian Wilson and then challenged him to take the spoken parts and arrange them into vocal harmonies. Then edited in the vocals and then released it. Given that Rev #9 was recorded by John taking a bunch of tapes and cutting them up, putting them in a box, shaking it and the having George Martin splicing them back together again. I think that describes this perfectly.