A ‘new’ Beatles track will be released later in 2023, although it’s actually an old song. Sir Paul McCartney revealed the news this morning, as well as the role AI technology played in the process of creating it.
The project uses a demo by John Lennon as its basis – the BBC suggested it may be 1978 song ‘Now And Then’ – separating out his vocals so that McCartney could complete the track using a process developed during the recent Peter Jackson documentary ‘Get Back’.
“He was able to extricate John’s voice from a ropey little bit of cassette. We had John’s voice and a piano and he could separate them with AI. They tell the machine. ‘That’s the voice. This is a guitar. Lose the guitar’,” McCartney told BBC radio show Today.
“So when we came to to make what will be the last Beatles’ record, it was a demo that John had [and] 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.”
It’s thus an example of audio separation AI, rather than the kind of generative AI technology that has been making headlines in 2023 with tracks deepfaking famous artists.
Lennon hasn’t been voice-cloned and made to sing words he never sung: it’s just a case of separating out the vocals from a demo on which he did sing.
This project is thus official, unlike a pair of tracks released earlier this year that used AI to create versions of Lennon and McCartney solo songs with vocals from both, which McCartney described in his Today interview as “kind of scary but exciting, because it’s the future”.