‘ChatGPT for music’: Google AI’s MusicLM generates music from hums

‘ChatGPT for music’: Google AI’s MusicLM generates music from hums

ChatGPT’s rapid rise has many wondering what else might be altered by artificial intelligence. The creation of music will also change, if a Google AI research paper released this week is anything to go by. 

The paper describes a tool called MusicLM that “can transform whistled and hummed melodies according to the style described in a text caption.” It can also generate “high-fidelity music from text descriptions such as ‘a calming violin melody backed by a distorted guitar riff.’”

On the paper’s website, examples show results generated by the tool. In one instance, somebody hums “Bella Ciao,” an Italian folk song from the late 19th century. Then, based on that humming, the tool generates music with instruments, with different styles offered, including guitar solo, string quartet, and jazz with saxophone. 

The Twitter account @bleedingedgeai posted one example:

“Think of MusicLM as the ChatGPT for music,” tweeted entrepreneur Martin Uetz, adding, “I can’t wait for this to go mainstream.” 

Less eager might be musicians who’ve spent decades mastering their instruments, just as illustrators and graphic artists have been angered by A.I. tools that create impressive images from mere text prompts. 

Among those A.I. art tools are Midjourney, Stable Diffusion, and DALL-E 2. One man recently used Midjourney to illustrate a children’s book. Impressed, he shared his experience with the tool on social media—and was stunned by the backlash from illustrators. And last year, an image generated with Midjourney won a prize at an art festival, which also angered artists.

The problem artists have with such tools is that they train themselves on a massive collection of digitized artworks without consent. A lawsuit recently filed in San Francisco by working artists describes Stable Diffusion and Midjourney as “collage tools that violate the rights of millions of artists.” 

Indeed, copyright concerns are keeping Google AI from releasing MusicLM to the public. But startups might be more willing to release such technology into the wild. 

Not that Big Tech isn’t also plowing resources into generative A.I. 

DALL-E is offered by ChatGPT maker OpenAI. Microsoft is investing billions into OpenAI and will use its technology in a wide variety of products, including the Bing search engine. That in turn has lit a fire under Google parent Alphabet, which is working on similar tools to answer the challenge.

As a tool, MusicLM is far from perfect, but it hints at where things are headed. The same can be said of ChatGPT itself. As billionaire Mark Cuban recently said of the A.I. chatbot, “imagine what GPT 10 is going to look like.”

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