AI analyzes the songs of bands like Nirvana and creates a new one that reflects their style.

The 27 Club of Musicians Returns with New, Computer-Generated Music

Thanks to a Google AI program called Magenta, you can tell your grunge band-loving friends that Nivarna has a new release. It won’t be quite true, but it will be close as you can get since frontman Kurt Cobain died in 1994.

The tune, titled “Drowned in the Sun,” is part of Lost Tapes of the 27 Club, a project featuring songs written and mostly performed by machines in the styles of other musicians who died at 27: Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, and Amy Winehouse. Each track is the result of AI programs analyzing up to 30 songs by each artist and granularly studying the tracks’ vocal melodies, chord changes, guitar riffs and solos, drum patterns, and lyrics to guess what their “new” compositions would sound like.

The project is the work of Over the Bridge, a Toronto organization that helps members of the music industry struggling with mental illness.

As you might recall Cobain committed suicide when he was at the pinnacle of his musical career.

“What if all these musicians that we love had mental health support?” says Sean O’Connor, who is on the board of directors for Over the Bridge and also works as creative director for the advertising agency Rethink. “Somehow in the music industry, [depression] is normalized and romanticized … Their music is seen as authentic suffering.”

Over the Bridge intends to raise awareness about mental health resources through social media, as well as Zoom sessions and workshops to educate artists and make them feel less alone. They don’t plan to sell the new tracks.

“Sometimes just the acknowledgment of one other person saying, ‘I’m feeling the same way that you are’ is enough to take people at least feel that they’ve got some sort of support,” says Michael Scriven, a rep for Lemmon Entertainment, whose CEO is on Over the Bridge’s board of directors.

Basically, Magenta was fed 20 to 30 clips of a band’s hit songs to teach it their style. Whole songs confused the program, so only pieces of the songs, like the hooks and the chorus, were fed to the program to write something reflecting the artists’ style. It took a year for the AI to write the Nirvana song.

The article about the 27 Club came from and it was written by Kory Grow. In the piece, you can listen to the Amy Winehouse or Jimi Hendrix projects that produced a “new” song of theirs that was done using the same process.