Solar Eclipse!

My parents and I travelled up to Erie, Pennsylvania this weekend to see today’s total solar eclipse. (We missed the 2017 one.) It was awesome! It was a very cloudy day, but fortunately the clouds thinned out enough that when the eclipse reached totality, we could see the “diamond ring” in its full glory. Very interesting to see the faint shades of color around the edges of the moon. The rapidity with which the whole sky becomes dark and light again before and after totality was also awesome to see. I generally hate traveling, but this was worth the trip.

(It was also nice that our hotel gave us a free upgrade from a normal dinky little hotel room to a double bedroom; more spacious, and I got my own room!)

I didn’t spend much time trying to get a good picture as I preferred to just focus on the experience. But here’s the partial before totality, taken through the filter of the eclipse glasses:

And then here’s a terrible picture of the total eclipse as shot through my phone with default settings, blurry and crappy:

There’s really not much else to do around here in Erie, PA. We went to see the shore of the great lake yesterday, and tonight I want to try seeing the new Godzilla x Kong movie at a nearby theater in 3D with D-BOX haptic movement seats, which I’ve never tried; we don’t have any back home.

Prayer to St. Michael with Suno AI

I turned the Prayer to Saint Michael into some epic choir music with Suno AI:

It would have been a lot easier for me to learn my prayers as a kid if it had been so easy to turn them into music.

I actually wanted the whole prayer to be sung by the entire choir, but Suno AI seemed to insist on featuring a solo vocalist for the second part (“May God rebuke him…”), as you can hear above. I also had to try quite a few times to get it to pronounce “wickedness” clearly and correctly; it kept wanting to sing “winess” or “wicks”. But I like how it ended up.

Here are some other versions it come up with, though I didn’t quite like any of them as much as the above.

V3 with the little “….amen!” at the end sounds almost comical.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about posting some lyric videos of my Suno creations to YouTube. I made the St. Michael video above with Shotcut, but that seems impractical for a video with changing lyrics. Perhaps if I can make a template in Blender, I can use that. But I haven’t played around with Blender in a long time, and I don’t want to spend too much time on it… something to play around with later this month.

For now, it’s almost time for the 2024 eclipse! Though the weather might not be so good… we’ll see…

Fun with Suno: AI Song Generator

Wow, this is my first blog post of the year. That’s pretty sad.

This week I’ve been playing around with Suno, an AI song generator. As far as music-generating AI goes, it’s definitely the best I’ve seen so far, as it actually generates melodies, which is what most musical AIs stink at.

Of course, it’s got its weaknesses, but this is new tech, so that’s to be expected. And I haven’t seen competition that really does anything similar yet, though I’m sure that will come.

Anyway, here are some of the songs I’ve generated with the app. You can have it generate its own generic lyrics, but I find it more interesting to provide my own.

The first three are symphonic metal, one of my favorite genres. Maximus is an epic choir singing in another language. A Song Unsung and The Road Inside are some relaxing indie folk. The Owl and the Dragon is a folk-ish lullaby. A boys’ choir sings The Crystal KnifeAbout the Cats is in the style of a generic 90s pop song. Finally, Boop! is an Irish folk song with nonsense lyrics. Links to the lyrics for each song can be found at the bottom of this post.

Weaknesses

Perhaps the biggest weakness is lack of control. Other than providing the lyrics and style, you don’t really have much control over the details, which you’d likely want if you were a serious composer or songwriter.

Styles are also limited; I asked it for the style of a Russian folk song (“The Owl and the Dragon”), and it just gave the singer a Russian accent.

The format is limited. For best results, it seems good to stick to four-line verses and chorus, from which generates standard generic 8-bar melodies.

It’s text-to-song isn’t perfect. Sometimes it repeats a syllable, ignores a syllable, or puts emphasis on a weird syllable. Sometimes it will sing a line from a verse as though it’s part of the chorus; its “parsing” makes mistakes.

Sound quality is another weakness. You can probably tell from the examples that it outputs some pretty low-quality sounds, especially with the bombastic symphonic metal, which can sometimes make the lyrics hard to understand. But musical sound data has even more information than images, and image AI generators themselves still output a lot of noise. With images, however, it’s easy to discount the noise as texture or something. With musical sound, noise gets in the way; with professional recordings (especially if you’re an audiophile), we’re used to hearing nice clean sounds; even the hissing high frequencies of cymbals matter to a degree.

In some output (not the ones I’ve showcased here), I could swear I could hear overtone artifacts of other words or singers faintly in the background; I’m guessing the AI is doing diffusion with frequencies / Fourier transforms, and generating little fragments of training data it should be ignoring. Or it could just be weird auditory illusions.

Is it useful?

Given all these weaknesses, is Suno a useful tool? Honestly, it’s probably not super useful for professional musicians yet, perhaps other than a quick and easy way to get some ideas. Otherwise, it’s perhaps still more of a toy at its current stage.

Granted, such a musical toy can still be a lot of fun, and I’m excited to see the app develop further. I’m not sure who’s behind it or even what country it’s from, but I do hope they don’t get bought out too easily.

TuneSage

What about my own music AI, the development of which I’ve been procrastinating on? Has Suno beat me to the punch?

My approach is a lot different as I’m not really dealing with the sound of music. My focus with TuneSage is more about the actual notes and musical structures of a piece.

Lyrics

Here are links to each song on Suno, where you can see my profoundly beautiful lyrics:

Close Your Eyes
A True Heart
The Shadow Age
Maximus
A Song Unsung
The Road Inside
The Owl and the Dragon
The Crystal Knife
About the Cats
Boop!