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More AI Songwriting–but not very good…

Engadget reported on a University of Toronto Artificial Intelligence (AI) project that would write a Christmas tune from a single image…  I personally don’t think Irving Berlin, rest in peace, has anything to worry about… But who knows where this will lead?

Here’s the tune, for what it’s worth:

May the Muse, the natural one, be with you…

AI “Writes” New Pop Song – Daddy’s Car (With A Little Help From Its Friends)

The Beatles vast repertoire of work was utilized by Artificial Intelligence (AI) developed by Sony CSL Music (with the “assistance” of a real live songwriter,  Benoît Carré) to compose the pop song “Daddy’s Car” – described by the Flow Machines AI team as being “in the style of The Beatles”…  I have to admit – it’s kind of catchy (and kind of scary that it is so catchy)…

Sony CSL describes the AI as “expanding towards a new generation of tools, the Flow Machines, whose aim is to abstract ‘style’ from concrete corpora (text, music, etc.), and turn it into a malleable substance that acts as a texture. Applications range from music composition to text or drawing generation.”  In this case, the malleable structure kind of works in a quirky way, but I’ll let you decide for yourself…

May the Muse be with AI and “friends”…

ScoreAHit Web App – The Hit Equation

Well, now we can take the guess-work out of wondering if the songs we write will be hits… The science behind the ScoreAHit web app can be found here.  It’s all mathematics and formulae and “I’ve got algorithms”… here’s a very brief overview from the site:

The underlying assumption is that popular songs are similar with respect to a set of features that make them appealing to a majority of people. These features could then be exploited by Machine Learning algorithms in order to predict whether a song will rise to a high peak position in the chart. Machine Learning is a branch of Artificial Intelligence concerned with learning to perform a task based on examples — in this case learning to predict hit potential based on past hits and non-hits.

And here are the factors measured by the algorithm in a tag picture format:

Kudos to Dr. Tijl De Bie for his work on this… it looks like a lot of fun and I’m going to submit a song or two to the Songometer when I get the link by email invitation…

I’ll report back on whether I’ve got algorithm or not… May the Muse (and Math) be with me…

Tunited – Social Network for Songsmiths?

Caught this interview of Midge Ure on the Daily Record’s website that deals with his establishment of an online social network for songwriters, music creators…

The site is called… you guessed it… Tunited… (Tunes+United I presume)…  Here’s some of the interview:

A teenage Midge Ure sat – guitar in hand – in his bedroom at his family home in Cambuslang and decided the time had come to write his first pop song.

As he nervously strummed the chords of new composition The Bowie Trilogy, a tribute to his music idol David, he thought, ‘This is what I want to do for the rest of my life’. His ambition far outweighed his early ability.

More than 40 years on Midge, 57, laughed: "The song was rubbish. Trouble was, I only had one part. I never got round to writing the other two sections of the track so it didn’t turn out to be much of a trilogy.

"I was so passionate about music. I firmly believed I’d be walking home from school and The Beatles would be waiting at my door saying. ‘We’ve sacked John, you’re the guy we really want’. I lived in total fantasy land. That was my reality but it was exciting to me."

Midge has been looking back at the origins of his incredible 35-year pop career to coincide with the launch of Tunited, a new online social music network he’s developed to help aspiring artists get their first step on the ladder to rock stardom and introduce fans to new music.

Midge spent four years building Tunited from scratch. Its aim is to encourage people to make music and get paid for it – an alien concept in an age of online piracy and free downloading.

Midge said: "Tunited is a DIY onestop shop for aspiring musicians. I’ve compresssed all the elements you need to make a living as an artist into this site.

"I’ve opened the door to everybody who wants to have a crack at making music or listen to new music.  The cost implications of going into a studio and making a record just aren’t there any more. We give you software good enough to make an album in your bedroom and a business pack showing you how to sell it.

"You can press up 1000 singles or just 25 copies to give to your mates. We also arrange gig swaps where a band in Newcastle can invite a band in Glasgow to support them and vice versa.

"You also get 100 per cent profits from songs which are downloaded. The artists all get paid – it might not be an awful lot but on other sites you don’t see a penny for your music. The quality of the work by new acts on Tunited has blown me away."

He said: "Today, if The Beatles were a new band and knocked on the door of a major record company or radio station with the Sergeant Pepper album the response would be, ‘Thanks but no thanks’. They wouldn’t fit the bill of what the industry deems hip and trendy.

"It doesn’t take a genius to work out that if 100,000 people turn up for an X Factor audition and only two are chosen that’s an awful lot of other people who’d like to have a crack at making music.

"It all comes down to whether you fit the demographic. If you don’t look right – if you’re too old, too thin or too fat, whatever – you’re going to be excluded, not given the opportunity to show what you can do.

"Tunited is saying, if you’ve got a skill – whether it’s singing, songwriting or as a musician – barter that skill. There is talent out there and we’ll give it a platform.

"Tunited is saying it’s time we did the job ourselves. If you’ve got the desire to do it have a crack at it, the tools are there."

Wow!  Very interesting concept… Best of luck Midge and may the Muse be with all Tunited users…  Look for me there…

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Songwriting Strategies

isw.netTom Slatter of Indiesongwriter.net is putting together a series of “songwriting strategy podcasts”.  Episode One was delivered by Tom himself and dealt with key changes, while Episode Two covered Nadia Cripps’ process to compose a new piano instrumental in one of her songs.

Check out the Songwriting Strategies podcasts and may the Muse be with you…

Drake’s Songwriting Tip: Use a BlackBerry

DALLAS - FEBRUARY 12:  Rapper Drake poses duri...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Maybe it’s conducive to his rap style of music, but Toronto-born artist/musician/songwriter/actor, Drake, uses his BlackBerry to write his raps:

In this clip from the upcoming doc, Drake bops to the track Kanye West produced for "Show Me a Good Time" and then picks up a BlackBerry and starts punching out some rhymes.

"All Drake’s raps for eternity have been written inside of a Blackberry," producer and engineer Noah "40" Shebib says in the clip. "I mean, to the point where if he doesn’t have a BlackBerry, we gotta go get somebody who’s got one. I’ve had dummy BlackBerrys around that I just pull out for him to write on, like if he needs one … that don’t actually even work!"

Drake cops to his need for a BlackBerry when working on his lyrics. "I can’t write my raps on paper," Drake says. "The BlackBerry keys — my thumbs were made for touching them." The clip wraps up with Drizzy in the booth recording and referencing his lyrics on his trusty smartphone.

Hey, whatever works for you, I say… May the Muse be with him… I’m sure we’re going to see iPad and Android apps for songwriters at some point… (rhyming dictionaries and tab/chord software… hmmm, maybe I should get on that…)

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Win a Songwriting Session with Rivers Cuomo

Weezer have launched a contest allowing fans the ability to remix their song, "Love Is The Answer," from the band’s latest full-length, Raditude. The individual instrumental and vocal tracks are separated here, and a public vote will determine the top 10 entrants–each of whom will be featured on Weezer’s homepage and MySpace page and receive a signed copy of Raditude. The grand prize winner will be given the opportunity to participate in a one-on-one collaboration to create a new song with frontman Rivers Cuomo.

For more information and to enter, go here and may the Muse be with you…

Songpitch.ca To Launch Soon

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The Songwriters Association of Canada and Astral Media Inc. recently announced the launch of a brand new Web portal for songwriters and composers across Canada.

The portal will revolutionize the music industry. It enables songwriters across the country to share their compositions, receive advice from industry professionals and offer their creations for sale to music buyers for television, film and other media. The new portal will also make it possible to replace the traditional practice of mailing CD demos to songwriters, musicians, agents and distributors.

Songwriters Eddie Schwartz, Jim Vallance, Greg Johnston and Marc Jordan, known for their songs performed by artists such as Pat Benatar, Diana Ross, Hilary Duff, Backstreet Boys, Bryan Adams and Olivia Newton John, are just some of the prominent industry members who will provide free, personalized feedback to songwriters who upload their songs to the platform.

"The launch of this new portal is in keeping with Astral Media’s creative and innovative spirit. Thanks to our work over the past few years with the Songwriters Association of Canada, we can have an immediate and significant impact on the careers of thousands of songwriters, aspiring and emerging artists and music program students across the country," said Jacques Parisien, Group President, Astral Media Radio and Astral Media Outdoor.

"When aiming to have a significant and immediate impact on emerging talent, aspiring and established artists, you must start at the bottom of the Canadian radio industry’s food chain. That is, to start with the songwriters. The Songwriters Association of Canada and Astral Media both know that it all starts with a song. Thanks to this partnership with Astral Media, a songwriter from any region of the country will have access to the industry’s senior decision makers as well as the advice of Canada’s most prolific songwriters," added Don Quarles, Executive Director of the Songwriters Association of Canada.

To learn more about the new portal and how it works, visit www.songpitch.ca.

The Songwriters Association of Canada is dedicated to the advocacy and education of Canadian songwriters and devoted to developing and nurturing songwriting communities across the country. Astral Media is one of Canada’s leading media companies, active in specialty and pay television, radio, outdoor advertising and interactive media.

When it’s live and I try it… I’ll let you know how the Muse works within this site, but I am looking forward to it… may the Muse be with you.

Musicshake… and Musicshare!

The Musicshake website declares “Music for Everyone, Created by YOU”. TechCrunch featured the site in an article published earlier today.

The free Musicshake mixing program (Windows platform only, see interface screenshot below) “lets users create personalized, professional sounding music using a variety of modules and pattern-combination methods, which is quite addictive once you get the hang of it (takes about 10 minutes and there are templates to help get you started). You can convert music you make to mp3 and download them to your computer, or convert them into a personalized ringtone. You can also show off music you create to your friends and place it in charts to promote your work to others.”

Musicshake then lets you monetize that creation on its website and share the proceeds with you 50/50. So budding composers, why not check it out. Here’s a video of the proggie in action:

May the Muse-icshake be with you… now go create…

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HitLab Dynamic Hit Scoring

A Canadian company, out of Montreal, was featured in an article by Roberto Rocha of the National Post yesterday discussing the DHS (Dynamic Hit Scoring) software featured on its website: HitLab.com.

From the article:

“We see this as the future of music,” said Eddie Wenrick, chief executive of Hitlab.com,a Montreal startup that aims to be the big new platform for farming musical talent. The company is a blend of MySpace– the social networking site popular among bands –and Canadian Idol. Members create profiles and add their songs for all to hear and buy. But for $30, they can get Hitlab’s software, called Dynamic Hit Scoring, to analyze their music’s hit potential. If they score highly, they increase their chance of signing a record contract.

Every three months, the four Hitlab users with the highest DHS score are invited to a talent show before a panel of industry honchos. The winners get coupled with managers and hopefully ink album contracts.

Hitlab would get a cut of the deal and publishing rights, and fame-seeking virtuosos get the exposure, Wenrick said.

“It’ll be a springboard to kick-start their careers,” he said. “We like to say we’re a baseball farm team before they go to the major leagues.”

Wenrick, a veteran of the music industry — he was an executive at Columbia Records and Epic Records and ran several talent management firms — understands that letting a robot pick new talent is exceptionally inhuman in a human-driven enterprise. This is why he also invites another top four members, as voted by other users, to the showcase.

“This is for users who don’t have a hit song, but have a large following and show potential,” he said.

And from the website on how DHS works:

To analyze music, the system breaks down the sound frequencies of a song into 78 variables such as tone, pitch, tempo, etc. If a song has very similar patterns to a song that was at the top of the billboard for a long period of time, the DHS score will be high. On the other hand, if the song has a moderately similar pattern to a song that was low on the billboard charts for a short period of time, the DHS score will be lower. By comparing a song to the database that holds the recent trends in music, we can evaluate how appealing the mathematical patterns of the sound frequencies are to the human ear, thereby evaluating a song’s hit potential.
Step by step:

  • Each MP3 song is digitized and parceled into tens of hundreds of short audio files.
  • A set of unique features (78 isolated variables) of the audio contents is extracted from each segment.
  • A full set of identifying features is created for each piece of MP3 content.
  • The complete set is then stored in the database.
  • Each MP3 is ranked according to its peak position in the Billboard compilation using the algorithms and stored in the database for future analysis.

I don’t know if something like this actually works. I guess it would for “pop” songs that may have many similar characteristics. My concern is whether a Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen, who didn’t sound like the prevailing pop at the time, would make it threw this type of screening…

May the Muse (and technology) be with you…

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