There’s a new musician in town, and it’s a robot that seems to be influenced by The Beatles, with a dash of The Beach Boys and George Gershwin thrown in. Called Flow Machines, this “musician" is an artificial intelligence software created by Sony’s Computer Science Lab (CSL) in Paris. It can compose music in the style of any artist from CSL’s extensive database of pop and jazz songs. Called the Lead Sheet Database, it consists of 13000 lead sheets (a form of notation that outlines essential elements of a song) from various composers.

Just last week, CSL released Flow Machines’ songs Daddy’s Car and The Ballad of Mr. Shadow. While the former is influenced by The Beatles, the latter is inspired by the styles of the epochal American songwriters Cole Porter (Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall in Love) and George Gershwin (Rhapsody in Blue).

Given that the AI composes the music by only combining and calibrating different stylistic elements from the various lead sheets, neither of these songs are novel or particularly path breaking in terms of the music. If you didn’t go in knowing that they are AI-composed, you may even think of them as quite uninspired and merely derivative of your favourite artistes’ work.

The only role that a human— in this case French composer Benoît Carré— had in making Daddy’s Car was in selecting the style category (‘the Beatles’), adding lyrics to the composition (In daddy’s car, it sounds so good / like something new, it turns me on), and finally mixing and producing the track.

While you listen to the track here, let the fact that this is just one song from a whole AI-made upcoming album sink in. The album will release in 2017.

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