Artificial intelligence is no longer something out of a science fiction movie, but has reached people and they are beginning to see its possibilities. For a few weeks now, social network users have been playing like children with Dall-E, a small free application that, thanks to artificial intelligence, was capable of showing, in a sometimes primitive way, what you asked of it. The monolith from 2001 a space odyssey bullfighting; the Demogorgon from Stranger Things playing basketball… endless possibilities that made him an internet phenomenon. Surely among the millions of options received by Dall-E, many put ‘Tanxugueiras winning the Benidorm Fest’. Artificial Intelligence as a way of imagining an alternative future in which to project illusions.
Perhaps it is not necessary to resort to the fashion game to see Galician music triumph at a music festival, although artificial intelligence is. On July 6, the final of the AI Song Contest, or better known as the Eurovision of songs written by artificial intelligence, will be held in Liège (Belgium). A Galician song will compete there among the 15 finalists who have made it to the last round among the more than 100 proposals from around the world.
The chosen theme is called Ai Lalelo, a title that refers to ‘lalelo’, the sound used in popular Galician songs, that cry that the Tanxugueiras have popularized and to which they have added that ‘AI’ that gives a clue as to how it was created, since the theme has been composed with hardly any human intervention in the lyrics, harmonies, instruments and in its video clip. The mention of the Tantxugueiras is not casual. The issue is, as it was land, a tribute to the women who promoted Galicia and its tradition, language and culture. In fact, the very idea of participating in this contest was born when Joel Cava, promoter of the initiative through the CECUBO agency from Compostela and a confessed fan of Eurovision, saw on television the defeat of the Galician trio against Chanel. He was aware of this contest, and believed that Artificial Intelligence could avenge the Tanxugueiras and place a song in Galician in a worldwide contest.
“Since Tanxugueiras couldn’t get to Turin, even though they deserved the place and even though the popular vote wanted it to be them, I devised this project with the company where I work as creative manager. We are looking for the best professionals to make the Galician candidacy for this Eurovision. It was a complicated task because it is a ‘unicorn’ profile, because you have to work in artificial intelligence dedicated to music and that you are Galician, because we wanted a 100% Galician candidacy”, says Cava about the team created, which they named ‘ PAMP!’, Ana María Prieto Project, in homage to the first Galician computer programmer,
A project formed by Juan Alonso, technologist in machine learning and neural networks; Sofía Oriana, specialist in AI Composition and composer of Elisa and Marcela (2019) by Isabel Coixet; Xandre Outeiro, soundtrack producer and musician at Projeto Trépia; David Santos, doctor in Telecommunications and musician; Marta Verde, digital artist responsible for the visuals of Tanxugueiras at the Benidorm Fest and associate professor at the Berklee College of Music in València; and Joel Cava, creative manager of CECUBO Group.
feed the machine
The question is, how do you create a song using artificial intelligence? The first thing, as in a song to use, is to compose the lyrics. In this case, you have to make the machine learn, that is, a computer and an algorithm. For this song “the machine had to learn to speak Galician and to compose copla”. “We have to feed the machine, train it in some way. It is necessary to provide a series of contents so that it internalizes and reinterprets them. So, in this case, we gave him content to create the song from a corpus of songs in Galician. A digitized songbook of popular songs from Galicia from which we extracted 400 popular songs from Galicia. We processed them and put them into the computer. What the computer did was internalize it and that’s when he learned to speak Galician and to compose copla”, explains Joel Cava.
The team he directs also gave him a series of parameters so that “the computer could relate concepts”. They told him that the song should talk about a seamstress and her activities, so based on these indications he created 400 stanzas to which they passed an orthographic and syntactic filter, in addition to one of copla metrics, so that “it would be a reflection of what could be a typical Galician song, with the metrics, the aesthetics and the sonority”. But human intervention should be minimal, that “the work that the machine had done” be respected. The final song is, according to the team, 80% artificial and 20% human.
We extracted 400 popular songs from Galicia. We processed them and put them into the computer. That’s when he learned to speak Galician and to compose copla
After the lyrics came harmony, looking for a “melody to give sonority to the lyrics”. The mechanism is similar to that performed with the letter. On this occasion, the machine was fed a popular Galician song called ‘A costureira’ that has many versions for it to reinterpret and create “a new melodic line”. The result sounded “to MIDI, too artificial”. It lacked a human touch, so it had to be “humanized, but with a process that was also artificial intelligence.” To do this they fed their machine again. They recorded dozens of Galician musical instruments, farm instruments that are used as percussion in popular music. “We record them raw and then process them. The machine learned to play instruments and to play them based on the melody that we had previously created”. “Now we only needed the voices”, explains Joel Cava, who clarifies that they resorted to “four tracks of voices, of which three are natural and one is artificial”. Even the video clip was created by artificial intelligence thanks to “images available in museum archives here, in Galicia” that show images of “women working in the fields or foliad”.
The final gala and voting
This Eurovision for Artificial Intelligence songs was born in 2020, the year that the pandemic caused the cancellation of the traditional event. This year, for the first time, it will be held at a face-to-face gala, although in a hybrid format with online assistance. On June 30, the popular votes were closed, which account for 50% of the vote. The other 50% will be given by a professional jury that will not only assess whether you like the song, but also the dossier presented in which the entire creative process of the film is told. On July 6, the winner will be decided at a gala where the video clips will be shown and where one of the most emblematic moments of Eurovision will be experienced, the voting and that classic: 12 points!
In the report that they have presented to the jury in the Spanish candidacy, it is highlighted how artificial intelligence can serve to “give cultural insurance, a guarantee of oral transmission to our tradition, to our identity, to traditional Galician music”. “Many times it is said that Artificial Intelligence comes to supplant us, and it does not come to replace anyone, it comes to enrich, and that is what we have wanted to show”, they explain of a song that “claims a language for which even now it follows having contempt.” “It is a song to vindicate ourselves as a people, to feel pride and expose what we add to the world, and also adding tradition and innovation. Culture and new technologies”. For Ai Laleloand as the Tanxugueiras would say, there are no borders.