Supercomputer helps create Apple iTunes hit

2016-10-25 10:41 - Kyle Venktess, Fin24
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IBM. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)


Johannesburg - Grammy-winning music producer Alex Da Kid has collaborated with IBM's supercomputer Watson for a four-track EP of “cognitive songs”.

In 48 hours, the first song - dubbed 'Not Easy' featuring  featuring Grammy-winner Elle King, Sam Harris from X Ambassadors and Wiz Khalifa - climbed to number 4 on iTunes "Hot Tracks" and number 6 on iTunes "Alternative" charts.

The IBM Watson supercomputer uses artificial intelligence to create songs with artists. The computer only needs a few chords of music and a mood to generate an entire instrumental. 

Watson analysed five years of cultural data to understand the “emotional temperature” of each year regarding music. 

READ: SA duo to break ground in co-production with supercomputer

The system looked at things like New York Times articles, movie scripts, song lyrics – plus the related social commentary – on Twitter and in blogs. 

Then Watson BEAT technology analysed the musical construction of top Billboard songs to understand, compositionally, the musical trends of the last five years. This allowed Alex Da Kid to experiment and create new sounds tailored to a specific emotion. 

And the song Alex Da Kid produced with this inspiration ended up being about a heartbreak. 

Alex Da Kid was able to create music tailored to the specific emotions caused by heartbreak, using technology.

Most recently, a Cape Town electronica outfit, Original Swimming Party (OSP), produced a song in collaboration with the supercomputer.

The audio-visual band, who define their music style as a mash-up of Western electronic with African influences from genres such as kwaito and house, sent through chords of an original song with a "mood", and the supercomputer then used the same notes to create an entirely new piece according to the mood.

“It has been a very interesting process and scarily similar to working with live artists,” OSP member Tom Glendinning said.

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