As we edge further into the age of technology, it’s clear that artificial intelligence (AI) is more than just a buzzword. The impact of this transformative tech has begun resonating in various walks of life, even permeating the realms of music and entertainment. One such groundbreaking endeavour includes a technological marvel involving The Beatles, arguably the most influential music band in history.
The surviving Beatles members, notably Paul McCartney, recently embarked on a journey to create what’s touted as the ‘final Beatles record’, breathing new life into the band’s legacy. The process involved resurrecting the voice of the legendary John Lennon, who was tragically murdered in 1980, from an old demo tape using AI.
The story unfolds when McCartney came across an unfinished 1978 love song, “Now And Then”, created by Lennon. This raw material was discovered on a cassette labelled “For Paul” that McCartney received from Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono. McCartney, intrigued by the potential to create something extraordinary, turned to modern technology.
The process of separating Lennon’s voice from the tape’s background sounds was facilitated by AI, a task that formed part of the making of the 2021 documentary series, The Beatles: Get Back, directed by Peter Jackson. The AI tech was tasked to recognize and isolate different sounds, enabling it to separate Lennon’s voice from the background piano.
McCartney described the whole process of working with AI as “kind of scary but exciting”. The technology used in this endeavour, termed ‘source separation’, has vastly improved with machine learning. It has the power to extract a voice from a recording, isolating it to allow new instrumentation to accompany it.
McCartney also pointed out the distinction between source separation and deepfake vocals. The latter involves generating an entirely new vocal line from a machine learning model trained on old vocal lines. In this project, however, AI was utilized to purify Lennon’s voice rather than creating new vocal lines.
With Lennon’s pure, isolated vocals at hand, the final Beatles record was crafted. However, the mystery surrounding the specifics of the record continues to intrigue fans worldwide, as McCartney has refrained from revealing further details. The new song, resurrected from the past with a sprinkle of modern technology, is set to be released later this year.
Meanwhile, McCartney continues to carry forward the Beatles’ legacy through various means. He is scheduled to open an exhibition, titled Eyes Of The Storm, at the National Portrait Gallery in London. The exhibition will feature unseen photographs taken by McCartney during the early Beatles days at the start of “Beatlemania.”
As we await the much-anticipated final Beatles record, it’s clear that technology, particularly AI, is redefining boundaries and sparking possibilities across all walks of life, even allowing us to venture back in time and relive the magic of the legendary Beatles. [source: thestar]