InnovationDaily Drip

Listen: “艾娲,” an AI-Composed Album of Chinese Music

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Today in The Machines Are Coming! we meet Luxembourgish company Aiva Technologies SARL. Their mission? “Establish Aiva as one of the greatest composers in history, and fuel the world with personalised music.” Their angle? Aiva is an artificial intelligence trained up on the GOATs (Mozart, Beethoven, Bach) “to create a mathematical model representation of what music is,” then tasked with using that model to trounce complement our human songwriting abilities.

From the company’s about page:

Recently, Aiva became the first virtual artist to have her creations registered with an author’s rights society (SACEM), a feat that many artists thought impossible to achieve for at least another decade. This achievement does not mean that Aiva will replace musicians; we will continue to encourage collaborations between man and machine.

That’s what they all say!

Aiva seems to have hit a milestone yesterday, as her (not sure why “she’s” gendered but whatever) creators uploaded an original, 25-minute composition of “Chinese music” to YouTube:

Nothing groundbreaking, but I can imagine this playing over some Kung Fu Panda b-roll, sure.

Aiva says of the composition:

AIVA’s Chinese name “艾娲” (ài wā), also the title of this album, has a specific meaning in Mandarin. The character ”艾“ (ài) means “elder”, and here represents the extensive knowledge that our AI has learned from the greatest composers in history. The character “娲” (wā) is from Nüwa “女娲” – the mother goddess of Chinese mythology.

(Not sure what dictionary they’re using for their translation of 艾 here; that character most often refers to the surname Ai or a type of wormwood in contemporary usage.)

Anyway, good for her. You can check out an additional 10-minute “making of” video that explains “where a human being might fit into the process” here, and stream/buy 艾娲 on Spotify and Apple Music. Aiva has also uploaded the creation to popular Chinese streaming site QQ Music, so we’ll keep an eye out for any hot takes that might emerge there.

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Josh Feola
Josh Feola is a Shanghai-based writer and musician, and RADII's Culture Editor. His coverage of Chinese music and art has appeared in The Wire, Dazed, Artsy, LEAP, Tiny Mix Tapes, and more. He's been active in China's underground music scene since 2010 via his booking platform pangbianr.com, and is a former member of Beijing bands Chui Wan, SUBS, and Vagus Nerve.

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