My first AI music album: “The Shadow Age”

I’ve been enjoying writing songs with AI songwriting tool Suno for the past few months, and recently put together a full-length album of some of my favorite tracks so far. While AI wrote the music and provides the performance, I wrote the lyrics, which are very deep and profound. (Though two of the tracks are from old famous poems.) The symphonic metal album is free to download here (ZIP file, MP3 V0, 111.2MB) or on Bandcamp.

Don’t like AI music? Well, I’m sorry, but I’m going to create even more AI albums, bwahaha!

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!

AI generated images are getting better!

Last year I posted about creating AI art. The website I mentioned, NightCafe, is still around and has added interesting new features, but the images it generates still primarily lean to the abstract side. It doesn’t generate much I would consider of very practical use beyond having fun.

But just a few weeks ago, OpenAI announced DALL-E 2, and the images it generates are much more mind-blowing and exciting. Here’s a brief overview of the tech from Two Minute Papers:

What a time to be alive!

Granted, the examples shown in the video and on OpenAI’s website are cherrypicked. There are some other examples out there that look a bit more wonky. It still doesn’t seem to be great with human faces, for example, or things requiring a lot of finer details, and it’s awful with generating text in images.

Here’s another video describing the tech:

Despite its weaknesses, it still looks enormously more useful, fun, and exciting than the AI image generators I looked at in that post from last year. I of course added my name to the waitlist. I’d love to experiment with it, but I probably won’t get access anytime soon. But DALL-E 2 definitely looks like something I’d be more than willing to pay for (assuming the price isn’t overly expensive). I can at least imagine creating useful images to accompany blog posts, short stories, book or album covers, or something.

Amazing stuff!

ETA: Also check out this mind-blowing art book of 1,000 robot paintings by DALL-E 2 in various styles: 1111101000 Robots

Fun with AI generated art

Over the past week I’ve been having some fun generating bizarre digital art with AI via a couple of websites. You generate the art by simply giving the AI a text prompt, such as “castles in the sky” and, after a couple of minutes, out pops the AI’s somewhat abstract but interesting interpretation:

Castles in the Sky

Since the results are rather abstract, it helps to use words that lack specific forms, such as clouds and landscapes. If you ask for an animal or human, you’re probably not going to get anything that actually resembles their shape, but rather only some abstract colors and textures that resemble them. For instance, here is “dolphins eating sandwiches”:

Dolphins Eating Sandwiches

It also helps to give the AI some hints as to what the result should look like. For instance, the exact prompt for “castles in the sky” above was actually: “An enormous castle floats in the sky beautiful artwork”. Adding the tags “beautiful artwork” help give it a more painterly look.

The art is also limited in resolution; the AI just takes too much memory for larger pics, so the smaller resolutions are the norm.

I’ve been using two websites to create such art:

  1. NightCafe Studio’s AI Art Generator. The site features a very nice user interface, lets you set some optional settings, and allows you to save and share your work while exploring the works of others. It does make you create an account and limits how much you can create with it using a credit system. You can buy credits or earn some. You can check out my profile here: https://creator.nightcafe.studio/u/Seanthebest
  2. NeuralBlender has no user interface or options, but does not seem to limit use. You do have to wait for the AI to finish its current image before starting a new one if you want to see it in your browser.

I have not yet tried it, but if you do a bit of Googling, you can find resources on how to set up your own AI art generator without having to use one of the websites above; the tech is called VQGAN+CLIP and is available to all. A “GAN” is a generative adversial network … and I have no idea what the other acronyms stand for (obviously you can Google that too). So I’m not sure how long the above websites will stay in service considering the tech is not proprietary, nor do I think the AI produces artwork of enough controllable quality to be of widespread use beyond offering an amusing spectacle.

Still, it’s fun to play with. Here are some of my favorites that I’ve generated so far:

Colorful Clouds

Airship

The Sky Is Cracked

Blue Sky at Night

Stone Palace

Library

Library 2

Library 3