AI and Music-Making: Allies or Adversaries?

By Jennifer Paccione

AI is here, people…and here to stay. Whether we like it or not, have tried ChatGPT or not, the buzz is flying about AI and its benefits—and its threats—to creativity—in fields across the board, including the music industry. Here are some pros and cons to this new and powerful tool on the block that is making its way into everything we see…and hear.


Pros:
Enhanced Creativity: AI algorithms have the ability to generate new and unique musical compositions by analyzing vast amounts of existing music. This can help musicians and producers discover fresh melodies, harmonies, and rhythms that they may not have thought of on their own, leading to increased creativity and innovation.


Music Production and Efficiency: AI can automate various aspects of music production, such as mixing, mastering, and sound engineering. This can save time and effort for artists and producers, allowing them to focus more on the creative process. AI-powered tools can also enhance the quality and consistency of music production, leading to a more polished final product.


Improved Music Analysis: AI algorithms can analyze large datasets of music to extract patterns and insights. This can be beneficial for musicians, musicologists, researchers, and industry professionals, as it can provide valuable information about trends, genres, and audience preferences. Such insights can help musicians and record labels make informed decisions regarding their creative direction and marketing strategies.


Cons:
Loss of Authenticity and Originality: While AI-generated music can be impressive, there is a concern that it may lack the emotional depth and authenticity associated with human creativity. Critics argue that AI compositions may lack the personal experiences, cultural context, and genuine emotions that artists bring to their work, leading to a loss of originality and uniqueness in the music industry. Impact on Employment: The integration of AI in music production and composition processes can potentially lead to job displacement for musicians, sound engineers, and other industry professionals. As AI tools become more sophisticated, there is a risk that human involvement in certain aspects of music creation could diminish, potentially affecting livelihoods and career opportunities.


Bias and Lack of Diversity: AI algorithms are trained on existing datasets, which can introduce biases and perpetuate existing inequalities in the music industry. If the training data predominantly represents certain genres, cultures, or demographics, AI-generated music may be skewed towards those characteristics, further marginalizing underrepresented artists and genres. Ensuring diversity and fairness in AI-generated music remains a challenge.


Ethical Concerns: The use of AI in music raises ethical questions, particularly regarding copyright and intellectual property. Determining ownership and rights over AI-generated compositions can be complex, as they are often based on existing works. Additionally, there are concerns about the potential misuse of AI for creating deepfake music or imitating the styles of famous artists without their consent.


As a musician and composer myself, I feel that as AI will have powers of speed, pattern- finding, and algorithm recipe cooking, I have to say that it will be nowhere close in replacing the dynamic ebbs and flows of the human touch. Whether it be the striking of keys, bowing or plucking of strings, pounding snares, toms, and bass drums, or even the breaths of singers between vocal phrases, I think we enjoy hearing the sounds of humans on their instruments, however subtle and unobtrusive they may be. Not to mention when I write/compose, I am drawing on my own unique experiences, past and present emotions, current life situations, perspectives, opinions, loves, hates, indifferences, dreams, passions, regrets……none of which AI possesses or can pretend to possess and translate into music as eloquently…and fiercely…as us humans.


We don’t always realize it, but those “human” nuances are what makes the audible mix so tantalizing, especially when music is heard live under an optimal sound- mixing/acoustic environment. The human connection is at the core of hearing live music, with the symbiotic relationship between audience and musician(s). Even the human energy between musicians live on stage has very powerful, unexplainable effects on the energy and emotions of the audience. Knowing from first-hand experience, musicians feed off of each other’s energy and even flow together somehow that helps the creative process and live experience unfold exponentially. Many times composing for my band I would get “composer’s block” so I would present my musical ideas on my keyboard with my fellow bandmates. Many jam sessions would find us all in different directions, then somehow magically merging together, like meandering rivers finding one ocean. We would bounce verbal and musical ideas off each other, whether talking or playing through these ideas. Once we locked on to something that we all agreed was working, we would ride that flow, swimming in each other’s rhythm and voice to create some amazing work. That’s also part of the fun of composing and performing with other musicians. I don’t know if AI would ever be able to get inside my head like my bassist or drummer can. And for me, there’s nothing in the world that compares to the electricity that runs through my veins and the power it brings me when I’m up there on stage playing music with my fellow kindred spirits and feeling that energy from an audience.


All that being said, I am certainly curious and eager to learn more how AI can better assist in future work and possibly save some time for me, as I learn how it can be my “musical assistant” rather than “co-composer.” I believe that we should understand that AI in music-making needs to serve us, the creators, as a tool rather than to be relied upon as a replacement in music-making.


Here are just a few examples of websites and platforms that currently utilize AI in music:
Jukedeck (www.jukedeck.com): Jukedeck is an AI-powered platform that allows users to generate original music tracks in different genres and styles. Users can customize parameters such as tempo, mood, and duration to create music tailored to their needs.


Amper Music (www.ampermusic.com): Amper Music is an AI-driven platform that enables users to create custom music tracks for various purposes, including film, video games, and commercials. It provides a library of pre-composed music elements that users can arrange and customize.


AIVA (www.aiva.ai): AIVA (Artificial Intelligence Virtual Artist) is an AI composer that creates original compositions in different styles and genres. AIVA has been used for film soundtracks, advertising, and other media projects. Melodrive (www.melodrive.com): Melodrive is an AI-driven music generation platform that creates adaptive and interactive music for video games. It uses AI algorithms to generate music in real-time, responding to the game’s events and creating a dynamic and immersive experience.


Magenta by Google (magenta.tensorflow.org): Magenta is an open-source project by Google that explores the intersection of AI and music. It provides tools and resources for music generation, composition, and creativity using machine learning techniques.


I encourage you to give some (or all) of these a try, but take heed:
Always remember who created who.
Rock on, humans, and let’s keep making some great, boundary-pushing music.

Miguel’s Top Christian Music to Listen in 2023

By Miguel Mike Medina

Christian music brings a lot of joy and heals the soul. What would life be without Christian and Worship music? I’m so glad that I began listening to Christian music since last Summer, when I became more of a spiritual person.

In this video that’s on “The MMM Journal,” I mention several Christian songs to listen for 2023. Hit the link to see the FULL video:

10 Memorial Day Songs That Will Force You to Stop and Thank a Veteran

by Jennifer Paccione

It’s Memorial Day….which, for most of us, has come to symbolize the first weekend of summer, a long, 3-day weekend, retail shopping sales, and enjoying indulgent picnic food at our favorite park/watering hole or in our backyards.

But what is Memorial Day?  It’s a day set aside to honor those courageous men and women who served, fought, and died during their service to their country.  We often take this for granted as we freely surf the internet, speak our minds on social media, or even leave our house whenever we feel like it.  We don’t have to look far to see how other countries like Ukraine or Israel have suffered, so we must remember those U.S. soldiers who gave us the freedoms we enjoy today.

Here are ten songs, in no particular order, that will give you a sobering glimpse of the soldier’s experience and the high price paid for your freedom.  These poignant, powerful, and sometimes even political songs will make your hot-dog-eating holiday all the more meaningful.WARNING:  some videos contain themes of war and violence.

1. “The Trooper” by Iron Maiden: This classic metal anthem is inspired by a battle from the Crimean War.  With its fierce, galloping rhythm and lyrics, it gives a snapshot of the conflicts and courage of soldiers.

2. “Hero of War” by Rise Against This piercing rock ballad talks about one soldier’s initial beliefs and ideals about war and his journey into new truths.

3. “Born in the U.S.A.” by Bruce Springsteen: This popular pop song became the new “Star-Spangled Banner” for Americans in the 80s.  But don’t be fooled by its catchy, upbeat feel.  The song reveals some harsh truths about a soldier’s harrowing experiences and struggles after his homecoming from the Vietnam War.

4. “Rooster” by Alice in Chains: Inspired by the father of the band’s guitarist, this song paints some vivid details of the struggles and thoughts of one soldier during the Vietnam War.

5. “Goodnight Saigon” by Billy Joel: In this tear-jerker of a ballad, the song invokes soldiers’ much-needed bonds of camaraderie to help them get through the desperate harshness of war.

6. “Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival: A 60’s protest song, it is a scathing rant on those who did not come from wealthy or political families and thus were thrown into the war by being drafted. 

7. “One” by Metallica: Inspired by the novel “Johnny Got His Gun” by Dalton Trumbo, the song deeply looks at one severely wounded soldier’s inner conflicts.  It also underscores the dehumanizing aspect of war and social/ethical issues.

8. “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American)” by Toby Keith: A patriotic country song that fiercely defends the values of the United States.

9. “Arlington” by Trace Adkins: This extremely moving country ballad is spoken through the voice of a fallen soldier buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC.

10. “Civil War” by Guns N’ Roses:  This powerful rock ballad explores themes of conflict, social injustice, and the high price soldiers pay.

….oh say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave

over the land of the free  

and the home of the brave?

(taken from “The Star-Spangled Banner” written by Francis Scott Key) 

…you bet your sweet combat boots it does.  Thank a veteran for all the freedoms you enjoy in the USA, either in person or through social media.  

Now go grill some burgers and enjoy that freedom to the fullest.

Miguel’s Friday Thoughts: Tina Turner, Melo Retiring

By Miguel Mike Medina

Tina Turner has passed away at the age of 83. She’s known as the “Queen of Rock and Roll.” I was never a big fan of her. I do think it’s a blessing she got to live a long life. I’ll mostly remember Tina for her song “What’s love got to Do with It,” a legendary and classic song. I remember when Fat Joe made his version featuring Ashanti and Ja Rule for the Juwanna Mann movie soundtrack. Tina Turner also had domestic issues with her ex Ike Turner. They were a musical duo from 1960 to 1976. She divorced Ike Turner in 1978. Turner has sold over 100 million records worldwide and won 12 Grammy Awards. 

The remake of the 1992 White Men Can’t Jump was a failure. I’m glad I didn’t see this, and I’m not planning to. Hollywood and their obsession with doing remakes and reboots is cringeworthy and a waste of money. The series is on Hulu, and there’s no point in why these creators wanted to make this series. Leave the classics and originals alone. 

Gary Sanchez has been designated for assignment. Sánchez, in his first season with the Mets, has one RBI and zero home runs through just three games played. I think Sanchez will find another home to play, but he still needs to improve his game. The Mets are better off with Francisco Alvarez as the starting catcher. He’s the future at that position for this franchise. 

Carmelo Anthony recently announced his retirement from the NBA. Melo is one of the greatest scorers of his generation. He’s a 10-time All-Star and a three-time gold medalist.

He’s a lock to go to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Anthony had opportunities to be part of a title-contending team, but he dropped the ball. For example, he could’ve joined Wade and Lebron in Miami, but he wanted to get his money. He didn’t take a pay cut. Also, his isolation Game didn’t help him win championships. Melo is known for playing one on one. That’s his game. I’m not really into that kind of style of play. He played for some good teams like the 2009 Denver Nuggets and 2013 New York Knicks, but for the most part, anywhere he went, winning didn’t follow him. 

Jamie Foxx Remained Hospitalized


By Miguel Mike Medina

Academy Award-winning Actor, Singer, and Comedian Jamie Foxx remained hospitalized for over three weeks after suffering a medical emergency. The rumor is that he suffered from a stroke or heart attack. 

What’s crazy about this situation with Jamie is that he looks healthy. When I heard the news about Jamie Foxx being in the hospital, it surprised me. But then again, with these celebrities, you never know their situation. We hope he didn’t do drugs or is a result of years of doing drugs. Another possibility could be that he wasn’t checking himself often with the doctors. The general recommendation is to check yourself every six months or every year. Many of us are hesitant to see the doctors because we might be afraid of hearing bad news or don’t want to take prescriptions, or it’s a waste of time because some doctors don’t help us like they should be helping us. It could be many reasons. 

Regardless, this is a wake-up call and a lesson in life for Jamie Foxx to probably slow down on his work and focus more on his health. There will come a point in our lives where we must deal with health situations. The important thing is to have a lot of faith and self-discipline. No one is alone because God is always with us to guide and protect us. 

Foxx is 55 years old. He won an Oscar for his role as Ray Charles in the movie Ray in 2004. Since 2017, Foxx has served as the host and executive producer of the Fox game show Beat Shazam. In 2021, he wrote his autobiography Act Like You Got Some Sense. Foxx is involved in eight projects between this year and the foreseeable future. In three of those eight projects, he serves as the producer. Seven of those eight projects are in postproduction.