In a world gearing up for a deluge of machine-generated content, human talent still leads the way. Music always finds its way to survive: Paul McCartney, one of the last custodians of the Beatles' unforgettable notes, has opened a new door into the music corridor by using artificial intelligence to bring to life what he calls "the last Beatles record".
Like an alchemist who separates gold from stone, McCartney has completed a song by his lifelong friend and alter-ego that might otherwise have gone unfinished. It is assumed that the song could be "Now And Then", a composition by Lennon from 1978, since then suspended in time and now ready to be collected and assembled.
The Beatles' latest album
It has been a long time since Lennon's unpublished "floats" waiting to (re) be born. This song had also been considered as a possible fruit of the "reunion" of the Beatles in 1995, when compiling their Anthology series. McCartney tells in a BBC interview that he had received the demo a year earlier from Yoko Ono, Lennon's widow, among several tracks on a cassette labeled "For Paul" that Lennon had made shortly before his death in 1980.
The key to solving this musical conundrum came with Peter Jackson's fantastic documentary "Get Back." The dialogue editor, Emile de la Rey, trained computers to recognize the Beatles' vocals and separate them from background noise, and even their instruments, to create "clean" audio.
This process has allowed Sir Paul to 'duet' with Lennon on his recent tour, to create new surround sound mixes of the Beatles album 'Revolver', and today to bring 'Now and Then' back to life. When will we hear it? Soon, says McCartney: by the end of the year.
The fifth Beatle? The AI
Despite fears of an increasingly AI-dominated world, McCartney admits a sense of excitement about the future of music. "It's kind of creepy, but exciting, because it's the future. We'll have to see where it takes us," he confessed.
For better or for worse, artists will increasingly come to terms with their virtual simulacra: it already happens in advertising, in the cinema e in fashion, and the Abbas they led the way in the music world. The idea that an artist "belongs to his people" will be taken literally.
In the coming years, voice cloning systems and generative AI will give us countless albums by the Beatles and other living or reviving stars. Artists will become "open source platforms": people will be able to listen to their personal creations, or create new ones respecting their style.
The Beatles and the endless music
Technology and art will continue this endless duet in the future, but today McCartney never ceases to remind us of the evocative power of the past.
Before the artificial ones arrive, there are still the "real" Beatles in front of us: four boys from Liverpool who changed the world "naturally". And even as time passes their music, this music, continues to resonate like an infinite loop in our souls. Until the end.
And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.