How AI Helped Create the Final Beatles Song?

by Sherif M. Awad

In a recent interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today program, Sir Paul McCartney announced that he has employed artificial intelligence to help create what he calls “the final Beatles record”. He said that the technology was used to “extricate” John Lennon’s voice from an old demo so he could complete the song. “We just finished it up and it’ll be released this year,” he said.

But what is the song about? How did AI help isolate Lennon’s voice? And what are some other uses of AI in music? In this article, we’ll explore these questions and more.

Table of Contents

Introduction

The Beatles are widely regarded as one of the most influential and successful bands of all time. They have sold over 600 million records worldwide and have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Their music has inspired generations of musicians and fans alike.

However, the band broke up in 1970, after a decade of making history. John Lennon and George Harrison passed away in 1980 and 2001, respectively, leaving only Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr as the surviving members.

Since then, there have been several attempts to reunite the band in some form or another. One of the most notable ones was the Beatles Anthology series, which was released in 1995 and 1996. The series featured three “new” songs that were based on Lennon’s demos that he had recorded before his death. The songs were Free As A Bird, Real Love, and Now And Then.

The first two songs were completed and released by McCartney, Starr, and Harrison, with the help of producer Jeff Lynne. They used modern technology to clean up Lennon’s vocals and add their own parts. The songs were well-received by critics and fans alike, and won several awards.

The third song, Now And Then, was also considered as a possible reunion song, but it was never finished. McCartney said that Harrison did not like it and that there were technical issues with Lennon’s recording. The song remained unreleased for years, until McCartney revealed that he had used artificial intelligence to help create what he calls “the final Beatles record”.

Background Information

Before we dive into the details of the final Beatles song, let’s take a look at some background information about the subject.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a branch of computer science that deals with creating machines or systems that can perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as reasoning, learning, decision making, speech recognition, natural language processing, computer vision, etc.

AI can be classified into two types: narrow AI and general AI. Narrow AI refers to systems that can perform specific tasks well, such as playing chess, driving a car, or recognizing faces. General AI refers to systems that can perform any intellectual task that a human can do, such as understanding natural language, solving complex problems, or creating art. General AI is still a hypothetical concept and has not been achieved yet.

What is a Longtail Keyword?

A longtail keyword is a keyword phrase that consists of three or more words and is more specific than a single-word or two-word keyword. For example, “beatles” is a single-word keyword, “beatles songs” is a two-word keyword, and “beatles songs with ai” is a longtail keyword.

Longtail keywords are useful for search engine optimization (SEO), which is the process of improving the visibility and ranking of a website or web page on search engines. Longtail keywords tend to have lower competition and higher conversion rates than shorter keywords, because they target a more specific and relevant audience.

What is Informational Search Intent?

Search intent refers to the goal or purpose of a user’s search query on a search engine. Search intent can be classified into four types: informational, navigational, transactional, and commercial.

Informational search intent means that the user is looking for information or answers to a question. For example, “how does ai work” or “who are the beatles” are queries with informational search intent. Users with informational search intent are usually in the early stages of their research or purchase journey and are not ready to buy anything yet.

The Final Beatles Song

Now that we have some background information, let’s talk about the final Beatles song that McCartney has created with the help of AI.

What is the Song About?

The song is called Now And Then, and it was written by John Lennon in 1978. It is a piano ballad that expresses Lennon’s love and regret for his wife, Yoko Ono. The lyrics are as follows:

Now and then
I miss you
Now and then
I'm blue
But it's alright
'Cause I love you
Now and then
I think of you
Now and then
I do
But it's alright
'Cause I love you
I don't want to lose you
I don't want to lose you
I don't want to lose you now
Now and then
I need you
Now and then
I do
But it's alright
'Cause I love you
Now and then
I see you
Now and then
It's true
But it's alright
'Cause I love you
I don't want to lose you
I don't want to lose you
I don't want to lose you now
Now and then
Now and then
Now and then

The song is similar in style and theme to some of Lennon’s other solo songs, such as Jealous Guy, Woman, or Imagine. It reflects his emotional state at the time, when he was in a period of “retirement” from the music industry and focused on raising his son, Sean.

How Did McCartney Complete the Song?

McCartney said that he received the demo of Now And Then from Ono in 1994, along with several other songs that Lennon had recorded before his death. He said that the demo was “very lo-fi” and had a lot of background noise from Lennon’s apartment.

In 1995, McCartney, Starr, and Harrison tried to work on the song with producer Jeff Lynne, who had also helped them with Free As A Bird and Real Love. However, they abandoned the project after one day, because they were not satisfied with the result. McCartney said that Harrison did not like the song and that there were technical issues with Lennon’s vocal.

In 2021, McCartney decided to revisit the song and use artificial intelligence to help him finish it. He said that AI was able to “extricate” Lennon’s voice from the demo and make it sound clearer and purer. He then added his own vocals and instruments, along with Starr’s drums. He said that he was happy with how the song turned out and that it will be released this year.

How AI Helped Create the Song

So, how did AI help create the final Beatles song? Let’s take a look at some of the possible ways that AI could have been used in this process.

Voice Isolation

One of the main challenges of working with Lennon’s demo was to isolate his voice from the background noise. This could have been done using AI techniques such as source separation or speech enhancement.

Source separation is the process of separating different sources of sound from a mixed audio signal. For example, separating vocals from instruments or speech from noise. Speech enhancement is the process of improving the quality of speech signals by reducing noise or distortion.

AI can perform these tasks by using deep neural networks, which are models that can learn complex patterns from data. AI can be trained on large datasets of audio signals to learn how to distinguish different sources of sound and how to enhance speech quality. AI can then apply these skills to new audio signals, such as Lennon’s demo, and produce isolated or enhanced vocals.

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Sherif M. Awad
Sherif M. Awad
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