How Paul McCartney Used AI to Create the ‘Final Beatles Record’

the beatles

Sir Paul McCartney has utilized artificial intelligence technology to produce what he describes as the “final Beatles record,” showcasing the possibilities of AI.

In a recent interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, McCartney shared that the technology was used to “extract” John Lennon’s voice from an old demo to complete the song.

McCartney hinted at the possibility of the song being a 1978 Lennon composition known as “Now And Then,” which was initially contemplated as a reunion song for the Beatles during the 1995 Anthology series. The demo track was gifted to McCartney by Yoko Ono, Lennon’s widow, a year prior, part of a cassette titled “For Paul” created by Lennon shortly before his passing in 1980.

He revealed the track’s completion, saying, “We just finished it up and it’ll be released this year.”

The Beatles’ attempts to record “Now And Then” in the past met with obstacles due to the song’s incomplete verses and a persistent electrical buzz in the original recording. McCartney recalled that George Harrison was particularly against working on the song due to its poor sound quality.

However, advancements in technology have finally made it possible for McCartney to realize his dream of completing the song. Key to this breakthrough was the work of dialogue editor Emile de la Rey on Peter Jackson’s “Get Back” documentary. De la Rey trained computers to isolate the Beatles’ voices from background noises, leading to cleaner audio.

This same process was used to isolate Lennon’s voice for McCartney’s recent tour and to create new surround sound mixes for the Beatles’ “Revolver” album last year. “We were able to take John’s voice and get it pure through this AI. Then we can mix the record, as you would normally do,” McCartney explained. This is like the hologram 2Pac concert moment for The Beatles it seems, but on a higher level.

Despite these exciting developments, McCartney expressed some concerns over the implications of AI, especially its potential use in manipulating artist’s works on the internet. “It’s kind of scary but exciting, because it’s the future. We’ll just have to see where that leads,” he said.

The interview with McCartney comes ahead of a new book release and a photography exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery titled “Eyes Of The Storm,” featuring portraits captured by McCartney during the Beatles’ rise to global fame.

Apple co-founder and the late Steve Jobs said in a 2003 interview, “my model in business is The Beatles.” Watch him explain it in his interview with 60 Minutes below:

YouTube video

With large language models such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard, we’re seeing the rise of AI at a pace we’ve never seen before. I can’t imagine what scammers will be able to do by mimicking someone’s voice in social engineering scams. In the future, it’ll likely be AI versus AI action. Damn you Skynet, damn you to hell.

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