AI-Generated Blues Music Struggles to Capture Human Essence and Rhythm

Published March 23, 2024

Last weekend, I encountered a new tune entitled 'Soul Of The Machine,' styled in the traditional vein of old-timey blues in E minor, following the classic 1-4-5 chord progression familiar to blues aficionados. A melancholic voice in the song laments the plight of a 'trapped soul,' whose once vibrant heart now lies cold and dormant. However, 'Soul Of The Machine' blurs the lines of reality in music—it's the offspring of an AI named Suno from a same-named startup, which raises the question: What constitutes a 'real' song in the age of emerging AI music?

This creation was prompted to emulate 'solo acoustic Mississippi Delta blues about a sad AI,' as reported by a well-known music publication. It nestles inconspicuously among tracks by flesh-and-blood Delta blues artists, bearing the hallmarks of the genre but lacking the nuanced dynamics that breathe life into music.

My experience spans a decade of professional music, including performing in a Western Swing band influenced by earlier blues and jazz. Western Swing's notable artists, like Bob Wills and Milton Brown, drew inspiration from acts like The Hokum Boys and Bessie Smith. The progression found in 'Soul Of The Machine' is familiar territory, but instead of the intentioned musical tension and release, the AI's chords wander off course, and the rhythm falters in a monotonic deceleration.

Human musicians might also play with tempo and chords, but their deviations are driven by personal taste and style, rather than an algorithm's unfeeling programming. And while an AI like Suno might someday refine its music to eliminate these telltale artefacts, being error-free is not the sole requirement for rivalling human-created music.

Performing live, reacting to the audience, and creating a connection is intrinsic to music. It's a synergy sometimes achieved with the audience that AI-generated music cannot replicate as of now. So despite advancements, AI is unlikely to replace the human experience of live music performance in the immediate future.

Although the intention of AI in music, as voiced by a Suno co-founder, is not to supplant musicians but to engage more people with music, the oft-mentioned term 'democratized music' implies that creativity has gatekeepers, which I find questionable. AI tools may not yet be at the point where they can conjure the essence of human creativity on their own.

Similarly, AI image generators stumble on fine details that human artists obsess over. Merely employing AI doesn't bypass the essential element of personal creativity, and it shouldn't be viewed as a shortcut. On the contrary, AI could complement and even stimulate the creative process when used alongside human ingenuity.

Ultimately, whether it's music or visual art, AI can be a tool that augments the creative journey, but it cannot replace the human touch. For true creativity, the answer remains simple: embrace your own artistic expression.

AI, music, creativity