The Beatles have released what they’re calling their “last song” featuring vocal tracks of the late John Lennon developed with the assistance of artificial intelligence (AI) on Nov. 2.
“Now and Then” was released by Universal Music Group (UMG), one of the world’s leading music companies, and was accompanied by a short documentary detailing how they came to create the track using new technologies
The video explains how director Peter Jackson developed software while working on his comprehensive Beatles documentary “Get Back” that allowed the team to uncouple John’s vocals from his piano part in the original cassette tape recording of “Now and Then” from the late 1970s that Lennon initially made as a demo.
“[We developed] a technology which allows us to take any soundtrack and split all the different components into separate tracks based on machine learning.”
In a separate interview, the track’s co-producer Giles Martin explained that AI can be taught to recognize voices.
“So if you and I have a conversation and we’re in a crowded room and there’s a piano playing in the background, we can teach the AI what the sound of your voice, the sound of my voice, and it can extract those voices.”
Paul McCartney, one of the four original Beatles members, said after they heard of Jackson’s new technology they “better send John’s voice to them off the original cassette.”
Thus the new track got off the ground with a little help from AI. John Lennon’s son Sean Ono Lennon commented in the video that his dad “would’ve loved that because he was never shy to experiment with recording technology.”
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McCartney echoed the sentiment saying:
“To still be working on Beatles music in 2023… wow. We’re actually messing around with state-of-the-art technology, which is something the Beatles would’ve been very interested in.”
Along with John Lennon, the track features the two remaining members of the Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, and the late George Harrison.
On McCartney’s post, fans have called the new track “beautiful” and a “work of art and perfect way to end the discography.” One fan even said she hopes AI will help make “Beatles live hologram concert on stage” for those who missed opportunities to catch them live.
However, there has already been mumbling from others about the use of AI and the “fake” Beatles song.
In a recent survey of musicians conducted by Pirate music studios, 53% of respondents said they have “concerns about how their audience might perceive music created with the assistance of AI.”
The survey also inquired why musicians were reluctant to use AI, with 58% reporting that “loss of authenticity” was the primary concern.
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