Sony’s devious plan to replace the drummer


We’ve been reporting on the evolution of AI in music production before, both Google and Facebook have done a lot in this field, now the time has come for Sony to enter the arena.

Sony is the latest company to dip its toes into AI-powered music. The company revealed this week that its researchers have created a machine learning model that can create kick-drum tracking. According to Sony, the artificial intelligence is capable of building “musically plausible” drum patterns based on existing instruments being used on the song.

In order to train the AI system, Sony’s researchers compiled data from 665 different songs from a wide range of genres including pop, rock and electronica. The songs all feature ryhthm instruments, bass, kick and snares that were available as separate 44.1kHZ audio tracks. With the contexual signals of those tracks, the researchers created drum kicks by setting a drum samples at all amplitude peaks. The AI system conditionally generates the kickdrum patterns based on the characteristics of the other material that it is placed around, regardless of the song’s tempo and changes in speed or duration.

Explore the project in full here >>

Speaking of machines taking over this guy, Martin Molin, is taken it to the next level:

Between December 2014 and March 2016, the band uploaded several YouTube videos featuring Martin Molin documenting the construction of a music box that uses marbles to play instruments. The machine is powered by a hand-crank, and works by raising steel marbles through the machine into multiple feeder tubes, where they are then released from height via programmable release gates, falling and striking a musical instrument below. Instruments played by marbles striking them include a vibraphone, bass guitar, cymbal, and emulated kick drum, high hat and snare drum sounds using contact microphones. The music score is stored on two programmable wheels that utilize Lego Technic beams and stud connectors to trigger armatures to release the marbles. A final music video showing the machine in use was released in 2016, and has been viewed over 100 million times.

Ten months after the debut of the original Marble Machine, the band disassembled it and announced their plans to make a new marble machine for the purpose of touring. The new machine, to be called “Marble Machine X”, would solve a multitude of mechanical functionality problems with the original marble machine. Martin Molin, the builder of the original marble machine is collaborating with a team of engineers and designers as well as fans for the design and build of the Marble Machine X. The original Marble Machine is now back in his possession after being exhibited in Museum Speelklok in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

As mentioned Sony isn’t the only company that has toyed around with AI-assisted music. Facebook has used artificial intelligence to convert music of one genre to any number of other styles.

Google likewise has experimented with AI’s ability to create art, building a project called Magenta that is tasked with generating musical and visual creations. Others have managed to use machine learning to create endless guitar riffs and complete musicals, though the results are pretty questionable in terms of quality.