The Beatles, iconic British rock band, posing together in a vintage photo, wearing matching suits and smiling.

In an exciting announcement, Sir Paul McCartney revealed that the Beatles will be releasing their final record later this year, thanks to the use of artificial intelligence (AI). The technology enabled McCartney to “extricate” John Lennon’s voice from an old demo and complete a decades-old song. This blog post explores the journey behind this groundbreaking project and the significance of AI in the music industry.

The Unfinished Song: Now and Then

The focal point of this AI-assisted project is a 1978 composition by John Lennon called “Now and Then.” Recorded on a boombox in Lennon’s New York apartment, the lo-fi demo showcased Lennon’s characteristic apologetic love song style. The song was initially considered for the Beatles’ Anthology series in 1995, but it was abandoned during recording due to various challenges.

The Role of AI in the Creative Process

The breakthrough in completing “Now and Then” came through the integration of AI technology. Inspired by Peter Jackson’s Get Back documentary, dialogue editor Emile de la Rey used custom-made AI algorithms to recognize the Beatles’ voices and separate them from background noise. McCartney was able to “duet” with Lennon’s voice during his recent tour and for the surround-sound mixes of the Beatles’ Revolver album.

John Lennon, member of the Beatle

Extricating Lennon’s Voice: The AI Process

Using AI, McCartney and his team extracted Lennon’s vocals from the original cassette recording. The AI algorithms were trained to recognize Lennon’s voice and distinguish it from other sounds, such as the piano. This process allowed them to obtain a pure vocal track of Lennon, which could be mixed with other instruments and create a cohesive final record.

Overcoming Technical Challenges

The original recording of “Now and Then” presented technical challenges, including persistent background noise caused by the electricity circuits in Lennon’s apartment. However, with the help of AI and advancements in technology, the team was able to clean up the recording and eliminate the unwanted noise, making it suitable for release.

Previous Attempts and George Harrison’s Resistance

Before the AI-assisted project, McCartney had expressed his desire to finish “Now and Then.” However, previous attempts to record the song were hindered by George Harrison’s reluctance to work on it, deeming the sound quality of Lennon’s vocal as subpar. Despite these challenges, the completion of the song became possible through the innovative application of AI.

The Future of AI in Music

McCartney acknowledges that AI’s capabilities in music creation can be both scary and exciting. While the use of AI raises concerns about the authenticity of recordings and the potential for misuse, McCartney sees it as an inevitable part of the future. As technology continues to advance, the music industry will undoubtedly witness further exploration and experimentation with AI in various creative processes.

George Harrison, a member of the Beatles

The forthcoming release of the Beatles’ final record, made possible through the use of AI, marks an important milestone in music history. The completion of “Now and Then” showcases the potential of AI technology to resurrect unfinished songs and collaborate across time and space. As the music industry continues to embrace AI, it remains to be seen how this transformative technology will shape the future of music creation and innovation.

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