New music tech update – AI, VR and Ambient modulations to spice your next performance


In an ever increasing range of new machines, synths, mixers and re-makes some news stand out and today we have some nice new technologies lined up to spice up your world of music. Although Ableton and a decent mixer may be enough for most use cases, but if you are more of a die hard experimentalist or simply wants to make your gig stand out why not look into VR or real time modulations. Or if you think music is for humans, maybe you should think again.

Experiments with Artifical Intelligence (AI) in music has been around for some time now, with mixed results, however AI in music is evolving quickly as this new feature reveals. A collaborative album between Tayrn Southern and Amper software, I AM AI, is the first album to be entirely composed and produced by artificial intelligence.

I AM AI is a collaborative effort between AI music composition software Amper and singer/online-sensation Tayrn Southern. It is a significant update compared to earlier experiments in AI designed to help assist musicians by producing melodies, arrangements and instrumentation that they can then use with their own human-like intuition to build tracks.

I AM AI is different because it is the first album in which all chords, production work and instrumentation have been exclusively AI-generated. All the “artist” is required to do is give initial direction as to desired style and overall rhythm and the software produces the requisite musical information. While rival software Flowmachines previously produced a stand-alone Beatles-style pop tune, it doesn’t match the scale of I AM AI, a commercially available album the first single of which, “Break Free” was officially released yesterday.

Outside of this new AI album Aiva Technologies is one of the leading startups in the field of AI music composition. It was founded just last year in Luxembourg and London by Pierre Barreau, Denis Shtefan, Arnaud Decker, and Vincent Barreau. They have created an AI called “Aiva” (Artificial Intelligence Virtual Artist) and taught it how to compose classical music – an emotional art which is usually considered to be a uniquely human quality. Aiva’s musical pieces are used as soundtracks for film directors, advertising agencies, and even game studios.

Next up is VR – AliveInVR is a new VR controller for Ableton that lets you immerse yourself in the production experience.

AliveInVR has just released an app for controlling Ableton Live using the HTC Vive platform. AliveInVR controls Ableton Live allowing you to trigger clips, play instruments and mix with a giant 3D Controllerist interface in VR. AliveInVR costs just £8.99 from Steam and allows you to trigger clips, place triggers anywhere in 3D space, play instruments in scale mode and mix your tracks in VR.

Their new program lets you enter the world of Ableton Live and trigger clips, play instruments and mix with a giant MIDI interface with your hands to control the software’s nearly endless parameters. You can even pick up and move sounds in space, play and mute scenes and navigate between tracks with the swipe of your hand. Despite AliveInVR’s undeniable entertainment value, it also endows users with a sophisticated, tactile and immersive set of tools with which to interact with their music.

Perhaps no musician has further explored how virtual reality can affect the live music experience than Ash Koosha. The Iranian-born, London-based producer has worked with TheWaveVR to perform live virtual reality shows at both London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts and on Boiler Room. Equipped with HTC’s Vive headset and its wireless controllers, Koosha uses TheWaveVR’s custom app to control sound in a virtual space, manipulating stems, seeing waveforms and triggering effects in a spatial manner. Meanwhile, his audience uses VR headsets to enter that environment, without having to be in the same venue.

In a recent interview Koosha elaborates his ideas on VR in music and the experience he wants to create:

Following that idea of going “into the sound”, the work you’re creating with this album has this element of virtual reality. What was your first experience of putting on one of the headsets?

The first time I experienced it was in London in an exhibition. There was this application where you could fly over a landscape and see clouds. It was a simple thing, but I had headphones on. Both senses were occupied in that moment, my hearing and vision, and I thought this is what music should be — my music. It should be like you’re inside the music — if that makes sense? That was the snap, the click.

People describe a record as like a “headphones record” and the way you describe it it’s almost like a evolution of that.

Exactly, it’s precisely that. It’s a “VR album”. Let’s say you have 30 minutes — not like 60 minutes, people are gonna vomit — let’s say you have a 30 minute album, and through the album there’s a narrative where objects are the sounds and sounds are the visual objects. There’s no division, there’s no distinction between the two. So you get this union of audio/visual, but there’s also a story, there are colors involved, there are details of sound that go around you, and it’s still music.

Last but not least we dive into the world of modulations with an iPad. The iPad Drum Machine DM2 has a “drone machine” mode that lets users make continuous ambient sound by playing up to nine tracks continuously. According to its developers, it’s “extremely versatile when used with a MIDI controller.” Watch a preview below and download your own copy here.

This is how they describe it: Introducing the “DRONE MACHINE”. With the brand new “Drone Machine” mode DM2 turns into an instant Ambient machine. All 9 tracks play continuously regardless of what the sequencer plays. Switch it on and drive a powerful Dream Machine at the tips of your fingers. Extremely versatile when used with a MIDI controller and MIDI Learn mode. Dark Ambient admirers, Space Rock lovers, Dream Music adorers, Minimal fetishist are welcome.