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An alternative to the cancelled Eurovision: AI Song Contest

Come To Ge Ther is the title of Bob Sturm and his collegues´ entry song to AI Song Contest.
Published Apr 08, 2020

KTH Associate Professor Bob Sturm has teamed up with Pietro Bolcato, a master’s student at KTH and Sven Ahlbäck, professor of Swedish folk music at the Royal College of Music and the Stockholm-based startup company Doremir, to compete this week in the AI Song Contest. An international artificial intelligence music competition organized by independent broadcasting company VPRO. Sturm, Bolcato and Ahlbäck gave us an interview about the project.

How did this collaboration come about?

STURM: “We were invited by the organizers of the contest while attending the 2019 International Symposium on Music Information Retrieval . They had heard of my work in modeling folk music with AI .”

Your entry song, Come To Ge Ther , how was that generated? Is both music and lyrics generated by AI?

BOLCATO: “The song arises from a human-AI collaboration. The AI was trained on a dataset composed of syllable-note pairs and is able to jointly generate melody and lyrics. The most interesting generated sequences were selected to create the fundamental building blocks of the song: the bassline, the main lead as well as the spoken and sung lyrics. From this solid starting point, the rest of the elements such as the chords and the accompanying instruments were added.”

In what ways does your work with this musical piece relate to your ordinary research?

STURM: “My ordinary research is about the augmentation of human music creation with AI, and studying specific points of friction when it comes to applying AI to folk music. Participating in this contest gave me the opportunity to explore creating popular forms of music with AI assistance.”

Digitally aided music composition and production has been here for quite some time and we are seeing more and more of online tools for AI mastering of music. Do you think that AI composition and production will be the next big thing?

AHLBÄCK: “I think what Bob is researching, augmentation of human music creation with AI, will be one next big thing within music technology, giving more people possibility to express themselves musically with the support of computing power. This is what we are trying to develop at our startup Doremir. Technology in the service of music and not the other way around. I think there is a possibility for AI to contribute to human musical creativity, if we use it with that goal in mind.”

When and where can people listen to and possibly vote for your entry to the AI Song Contest?

STURM: “April 10. Voting will begin when all entries are posted at the AI Song Contest website  and goes on until May 10.”

Håkan Soold

Listen to the AI composition  the researchers submitted for the contest.