Hello World is the first music album composed by AI, and it is the result of a long road.
AI and Music
In 1958, AI was used to compose Bach-like chorales (the Illiac suite). Since that time, however, huge progress has been made in AI technologies, including in machine-learning, combinatorial optimization, statistical inference, and related areas.
The AI used in this album is called Flow Machines, which is a set of online tools. In a typical session with Flow Machines, users first select a set of scores (lead sheets) that they want to inspire them, which in turn will determine the style of the scores generated by Flow Machines. Then they select a set of audio recordings that will determine the sound textures of the audio stems generated by Flow Machines. Users can go back and forth between the generation of scores and the generation of audio renderings using an interactive interface until they get a result they are satisfied with. This process can be very quick (1 hour) or slow (a few days) depending on the specific cases. There is no recipe for a good song, fortunately!
The system generates scores and audio stems that are most often musically relevant, sometimes compelling. The idea for this album was to come up with fresh material melody-wise, harmony-wise and timbre-wise, yet material that would make sense with respect to the styles chosen by the artists.
We believe we have achieved this goal. All the songs in this album have a special character that makes them uniquely singular! Additionally, for unknown reasons (perhaps due to an optimal exchange between stylistic consistency and innovation produced during the AI generations) most of these songs are earworms. Once you listen to them a couple of times, they stay in your head!
Hello World is the first album composed by an artist – SKYGGE – with artificial intelligence. Its goal is to show that AI can be used to create new, compelling music, generating fresh musical material of all sorts: melodies, harmonies, timbre, rhythms and the like.
Hello World started as a research project (the Flow Machines project) in which scientists were looking for algorithms to capture and reproduce the concept of musical “style”. Many scientific and technical results were obtained. Some prototypes were built with rudimentary interfaces (and a lot of bugs). The novelty and huge potential of the approach triggered the attention of a few talented musicians who joined the team. In 2016, we launched a song in the style of The Beatles, Daddy’s Car, as well as a less conventional title (Mr. Shadow) that would become the theme of this album. Then more musicians came. At some point, under the artistic direction of SKYGGE, the artists took control, and the scientific project became a music project.
This album is the result of that story. 15 songs were created by artists using Flow Machines: composers, singers, musicians, producers, and sound engineers, in many musical genres (pop, electronic, ambient, and jazz). With this diversity of skills, we had a single objective: use these new technologies to create novel, interesting music, yet music that would please our ears. Most importantly, music that the artists wanted to make! Melodic twists, harmonic surprises, and timbral juxtapositions, with a strong sense of direction and the uncompromising goal of making really good music, music that can touch and challenge the fan base of the artists.
The album’s title, Hello World, is a reminiscence of the first program a beginner writes, when learning a new programming language. These are the first words that AI utters in mainstream music.
This album was curated by the artist SKYGGE. Behind SKYGGE is Benoit Carré, a French pop artist. He invited many musicians to join in the composition and production of the songs:
Virgille Allien, Alys, Joseph André, Cyril Baleton, Laurent Bardainne, Camille Bertault, Florianne Bonani, Lionel Capouillez, Raphael Chassin, Benjamin Chollet, Médéric Collignon, C Duncan, Fred Decès, Christian Dessart, Freddy Garcia, Renaud Gieu, Mariama Jalloh, JATA, Kiesza, Kyrie Kristmanson, Jérôme Lavaud, Michael Lovett, Gilles Martin, Ana Millet, Rachid Mir, Napkey, Adrien Pallot, Jérémy Pasquier, The Pirouettes, Marie-Jeanne Serrero, Stromae, The Bionix, Twenty9, Ash Workman, Sarah Yu Zeebroek.
Special thanks to the musicians who supported us during the entire project: ALB, Barbara Carlotti, Black Devil Disco Club, Busy P, Catastrophe, Dominique Dalcan, King Doudou, Fady Farah, Jack Flaag, Arnaud Fleurent-Didier, Forever Pavot, Céline Garcia, House de Racket, Krampf, Kumisolo, Lescop, Naïve New Beaters, Dôn Nodey, Ô, Arthur Philippot, Michael Ponton.
The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventy Framework Programme (EP7/2007-2013 Grant Agreement no.291156) and has been conducted by Francois Pachet at Sony Computer Science Laboratories（Sony CSL Paris) and Pierre and Marie Curie University (UPMC).
Flow Machines was developed by Vincent Degroote, Marco Marchini, Daniel Martin, Timotée Neullas, Alexandre Papadopoulos, Mathieu Ramona, Pierre Roy and Jason Sakellariou under the direction of François Pachet.
The following people contributed to the research and development of Flow Machines: Pierre Roy, Alexandre Papadopoulos, Jason Sakellariou (score generation); Mathieu Ramona and Marco Marchini (audio synthesis); Vincent Degroote, Timothée Neullas, Daniel Martín (database architecture); Fiammetta Ghedini (dissemination).
Many thanks to the following people, who supported us during the project:
Bernard Allien, Gilad Atzmon, Julie Bednarek, Antoine Benacin, Jean-Philippe Benoit, Pierre Brechet, Alf Briat, Jean-Pierre Briot, Amanda Butler, Giordano Cabral, Jérémie Charbonnel, Bruno Crolot, Jules Espiau de Lamaëstre, Mirko Degli Esposti, Stéphane Durand, Guillaume Fouqué, Olivier Gal, Jan Ghazy, Guy & Claire, Jean-Marie Guilloux, Thierry Guedj, Alex Hekoya, Will Hope, Ray and Mark d’Inverno, Tristan Jehan, Ed Jones, Hiroaki Kitano, Christophe Lameignère, Freddy Lamotte, Stéphane Le Tavernier, Marc Lumbroso, Jessi Lumbroso, Katy Masuga, Charlotte Nansot, Tetsu Natsume, Guillaume Perez, Maxime Perron, Dylan Petit, Godefroy Pizon, Yiannis Plastiras, Julie Politi, Geber Ramalho, Jean-Charles Régin, Stéphane Rivaud, Nadini Sathiyarajan, Alain Sierro, Thom Skarzynski, Oskar Stahl, Luc Steels, Jeff Suzda, Mario Tokoro, Aurélien Trigot, Michael Turbot, Paco Weiser.
Photo (cover): Jonathan Chu
Photos: Jean-François Robert
Layout: Julie Politi
Mastering: Adrien Pallot (Chabmastering studios)