Sony is the latest company to dip its toes into AI-powered music. The company revealed this week that its researchers have built a machine learning model that will create kick-drum tracking. According to Sony, the artificial intelligence is capable of building “musically plausible” drum patterns based on existing instruments getting used on the song.
To coach the AI system, Sony’s researchers compiled information from 665 different songs from a broad range of genres together with pop, rock, and electronica. The songs all feature rhythm instruments, bass, kick and snares that were available as separate 44.1kHZ audio tracks. With the contextual signals of those tracks, the researchers created drum kicks by setting drum samples at all amplitude peaks. The AI system conditionally generates the kickdrum patterns based on the characteristics of the other material that it is placed around, regardless of the song’s tempo and changes in speed or duration.
Drummers are also notoriously troublesome to seek out if you are in a band, and if this technology could be made to work in real-time, bands could potentially replace their human drummer with an artificially intelligent one. That successively might lead to an entirely new genre: AI-assisted music. It’s already a growing field, with AI composers like Flow Machine making music in the style of The Beatles with Daddy’s Car. There is even technology out there which can flip using artificial intelligence.
Sony is not the sole company that has toyed around with AI-assisted music. Facebook has used AI to convert music of one genre to any number of different designs. Google likewise has experimented with AI’s ability to create art, building a project called Magenta that is tasked with generating musical and visual creations. Others have managed to use machine learning to make endless guitar riffs and complete musicals, though the results are pretty questionable in terms of quality.
For now, the technology has a great distance to travel before it’ll be able to replace live musicians, however, it certainly seems as though AI music is fast gaining traction.