Paul McCartney announces the release of a final Beatles title made using artificial intelligence

Paul McCartney in London, December 12, 2022.

“With a little help from AI” (“with a little AI help”). Soon to be 81, Sir Paul McCartney announced on Tuesday June 13 at the BBC microphone that he used artificial intelligence (AI) to produce what he calls “the last recording of the Beatles”. AI has been used to ” extract “ the voice of John Lennon from an old demo in order to complete the title. “We just finished it and it will be released this year”he said.

Paul McCartney did not specify which track it is, but according to the BBC, it would probably be an unfinished track by John Lennon, titled Now and Then, recorded in 1978 as a solo piano-voice demo. It had been considered for a time as a potential single after Free as a Bird And Real Lovetwo other John Lennon tracks used to join the compilation project The Beatles Anthology, released in several stages from 1995.

In January 1994, Yoko Ono had sent to Paul McCartney two cassettes comprising models that John Lennon had never finished or marketed. Besides Free as a Bird And Real Lovethe other two songs were Grow Old with Me and Now and Then. Work on this last piece never really started because George Harrison, who died in 2001, didn’t like it. According to New Yorkerthe author of Here Comes the Sun called John Lennon’s unfinished title “fucking rubbish” (“real shit”). Eventually, Paul McCartney resolved to bring it back to life.

The Beatles at the forefront of innovation

The association of AI and the Beatles could make people cringe when many artists are already worried about the use that will be made of artificial intelligence. Paul McCartney nevertheless judges the phenomenon ” very interesting “ : “It’s something we’re all figuring out right now, trying to figure out what it means. »

An AI has already been used by Peter Jackson to make the documentary The Beatles: Get Backreleased in 2021. Dialogue editor Emile de la Rey used an AI to recognize the voices of the Beatles and separate them from background noise, thus making private conversations filmed in 1969 audible, recalls the Guardian. “You teach the computer what a guitar looks like, (…) a human voice, (…) a battery, (…) a bass guitar. So we can take a mono track from them (of the Beatles) at Twickenham playing and we can say, ‘Give us the vocal track’. And machine learning will only render a vocal track,” explained Peter Jackson to the magazine Guitar. “So you’ll see Ringo in the background playing the drums, but you won’t hear the drums. The big step forward for us was therefore not to restore the images, even if that is what we are obviously looking at, but the sound. »

Before Peter Jackson and the AI, The Beatles themselves never balked at pushing the boundaries of sonic innovation with feedback on I Feel Finethe fuzz pedal on a bass for Think For Yourselfthe loops on Tomorrow Never Knowsthe Automatic Double Tracking or ADT (automatic track doubling) used on several titles of Revolver (1966) or recording the bass in the console to give it a more raw sound, like during the sessions of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967).

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers The Beatles’ “Get Back”, endnotes, after fifty years of mourning

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