Compose a song
There’s no escaping the publicity surrounding artificial intelligence. Technology companies say it’s a big deal, and we in the media are sometimes guilty of taking things a step further.
Now, with several musicians proclaiming the usefulness of AI in song composition, I wanted to take a closer look.
Is it really possible to write a great pop song with the help of artificial intelligence?
In this article, the first of two parts, we will see the theoretical side of the use of AI to write music. I’ll show you the best tools you can use and how they work.
I’ll also cover the different parts of a song and tell you how to use artificial intelligence to help you write them.
What do you need for a song?
For the purposes of this article, I’m going to stick to the basic and proven principles of composing pop songs.
That means you’re going to need chords (in a progression), a melody and lyrics. With the help of the AI software, you can acquire them all quickly and easily.
If this is the first song you’ve written, it’s wise to fix things in one of the most common song structures you can hear in millions of pop songs both in the past and today. You can play with different formats, but essentially you will need these parts:
- Stanzas (at least two)
- Choir (repeated several times)
Of course, music has to do with expression and some of the best music is invented when the rules are broken, but you have to learn to walk before you can run. Some of the most iconic songs of all time are based on the basic principles of music theory.
A popular song structure is: intro > stanza > chorus > stanza > chorus > chorus > bridge > stanza > chorus > outro. Some examples of songs that use this structure are ‘Live Forever’ by The Beatles, Day Tripper and Oasis. There are worse places to start your journey as a composer than with those boys.
How to write a chord progression using AI
Writing a chord progression is the starting point for many musicians, but traditional methods mean knowing everything about notes, major and minor, and which chords work on which notes and which do not.
Fortunately, AI means you don’t need to know about it anymore. Applications like Amadeus Code, the songwriting assistant with artificial intelligence, can do it all for you.
You can start with a track you like, using the Discover feature or search for your favourite artists to hear how a real track sounds through Amadeus Code.
However, the selection of artists remains limited for the time being. You can then go to the Song tab and slide up to get an unlimited number of complete songs inspired by real artists, written by artificial intelligence.
At first, the songs sound like themes from children’s television programs. The idea is that you take the raw materials here and use them to create your own song. All the pieces are created for you (key, chord progression, melody, tempo), it’s up to you to put them into practice.
Another good chord progression tool is Autochords. The application is by no means as ingenious as Amadeus Code, but the basics for doing the job are there. First, you have to choose the type of sensation you want to convey and the tone.
You can choose from a wide range of music genres, from cliché to melancholic. You can also select between piano and guitar as the instrument on which the chords will be displayed.
If you don’t know anything about chords and tones, you just have to choose at random, it’s not really important at this stage, and it can always be changed later.
The main progression will be generated, along with several alternatives. You will probably want to use the main chord sequence for your stanza, and the alternatives will be large choruses or can be used as a bridge.
Listen to them and choose the ones you like. Not all the chords given were in pitch when I tried this but, as always with music, if it sounds good, then it’s good.
Both Amadeus Code and Autochord are only available in iOS at the moment, but there are options for those who do not have an Apple device and prefer to use their browser.
ChordChord is one of the simplest and most effective online tools at the moment. It will randomly generate a progression of chords in a random key, set the tempo and even add a part of arpeggio, as well as a drum kit.
The disadvantage of this tool is that there is no way to export the sounds, it is limited to four-chord progressions, and the chords are only displayed on the piano. There’s definitely enough here to work on if you have any musical knowledge, but it’ll take a little more work than Autochords, for example.
How to write a melody using IA
There are a couple of AI tools you can use to create melodies, and this is probably the hardest part of writing songs. The same chord progressions are used again and again in popular music, but a great melody is immediately recognizable.
Google’s Melody Maker, part of the Chrome Music Lab, is a way of writing melodies that gives you a little more freedom than Amadeus Code, but does not require any musical education.
If this is your first time writing a tune and you have no idea how you want it to sound, I would suggest that you drag the mouse around the page to place notes. Press “play” and listen to how it sounds.
You can then adjust each individual note to make it higher or lower in pitch. You can also change the tempo at the bottom, as well as add octaves. Play with her until you have a tune you like.
You can also use Amadeus Code to write a melody for your pop song. The AI will write a melody for you when you create a new song, but if you don’t like it, you can change it for a different one.
Go to the settings of a song you’ve made in the application and you can modify things like familiarity, drama and note length to alter your melody and create different vibes. You can also change the era if you go for a particular style, from a decade in which you want to influence your melody.
How to write lyrics using AI
What’s a great pop song without big lyrics? But we can’t all be Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, can we? There are many different ways to approach letters.
Some composers have used random lines of novels for their lyrics, while others, such as the British Public Service Broadcasting, use spoken word announcements, documentaries and other archival materials to supplement their songs.
Whichever style you choose, IA can help speed up the process. Online song lyrics generators, like this one, can spit rhyming words on almost any topic you like.
You can even choose an artist you’d like to emulate, and the AI will create letters in that style. Simply enter the words into the boxes (or use the suggest button to make it even simpler) and let the AI do the rest.
You can also use a poem generator to make things a little more abstract, like this one. However, one of the funniest ways to type letters is by using Google’s autofill suggestions. Google Poetics is a site that generates lines of (almost) poetry by entering a word or phrase in Google’s search and letting the algorithm do the rest. It’s a creative way to create unusual song lyrics for your pop masterpiece.
I’ve heard a great chord progression, but I don’t know the chords.
Chordify is a great option for budding composers who cannot identify ear chords. The application allows you to search for any artist and will show you the song and chords and chord changes in real time.
It works by ‘listening’ to a YouTube video, which means that any song that has been uploaded to the video streaming service is supported – a huge amount of music.
There is a premium version that allows you to change the tempo, among other things. In the web version, you can also upload a song (like your song exported from Amadeus Code) to find out the chords.
Now that you’ve got all your parts, what’s the next step?
Once you have the ingredients for a hit pop song, it’s time to go to the studio and record it. I must emphasize that these AI tools are designed to be composition assistants, not instant success factories.
The target market is that of struggling composers, devoid of ideas and in need of a creative spark. The AI may be your McCartney, but you’ll still have to have some Lennon to produce a decent pop song.