Artificial Intelligence

AI enables a ‘final’ Beatles record

13th June 2023
Harry Fowle

Sir Paul McCartney has employed the help of AI to enable the creation of what he says could be “the final Beatles record.”

In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, McCartney says how the AI had been used to “extricate” John Lennon’s voice from an old demo to recreate the voice for the new record. Thanks to technology, the new record, which has yet to have a name attached to it, has been finished and is touted to be released later this year.

The demo used to create the AI voice was given to McCartney only a year earlier by Yoko Ono, Lennon’s widow. The song created by the AI was one of several songs on a cassette which was titled “For Paul,” created by Lennon prior to his death in 1980. The tracks were mellow in nature and recorded for the most part on a boombox at the piano in his New York apartment.

Previous attempts had been made to make use of this demo to create new music, however, problems, such as electrical static, original recording quality, and a general lack of usable content persisted which made the task harder than anticipated.

It now appears that thanks to the latest advancements in AI technology, McCartney finally has the opportunity to accomplish his objectives.

A significant breakthrough occurred in Peter Jackson’s Get Back documentary, when Emile de la Rey, a dialogue editor, taught computers to identify the voices of the Beatles and isolate and extract them from background sounds as well as their own instruments. This resulted in the creation of ‘clean’ audio samples of the Beatles’ voices.

Using this exact method, McCartney was able to perform a ‘duet’ with Lennon during his recent tour, and last year, new surround sound versions of the Beatles’ Revolver album were produced.

McCartney explained the process of extracting the voices from the demo: “He [Jackson] was able to extricate John’s voice from a ropey little bit of cassette.

We had John’s voice and a piano, and he could separate them with AI. They tell the machine, ‘That’s the voice. This is a guitar. Lose the guitar.’

“Then we can mix the record, as you would normally do. So it gives you some sort of leeway.”

However, just like the concerns raised by other artists, McCartney admitted to having reservations towards the application of AI to the music industry.

“I’m not on the internet much [but] people will say to me, ‘Oh yeah, there’s a track where John’s singing one of my songs,’ and it’s just AI, you know?

“It’s kind of scary but exciting because it’s the future. We’ll just have to see where that leads.”

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