If he was still alive today, Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain would be 52. Every February 20, on his birthday, fans wonder what songs he would write if he hadn’t died of suicide almost 30 years ago. While we’ll never know the answer to this question, an AI is trying to fill the void.
A mental health organization called On the bridge used google Magenta AI and a generic neural network to examine over two dozen songs from Nirvana to create a “new” track for the group. “Drowned in the Sun” opens with a reverb-soaked pinch before transforming into an assault of distorted power chords. “I don’t care / I feel like one, drowned in the sun,” sings Eric Hogan, leader of the Nirvana tribute group. In execution, it doesn’t look that different from “You know you are right,” one of the last songs recorded by Nirvana before Cobain’s death in 1994.
Other than Hogan’s voice, everything you hear in the song was generated by the two Over the Bridge IA programs used. The organization initially fed the Magenta songs as MIDI files so the software could learn the specific notes and harmonies that made the band’s songs so iconic. Humorously, Cobain’s loose and aggressive guitar playing style gave Magenta a few issues, with the AI mostly producing a wall of distortion instead of something that resembles its signature melodies. “It was a lot of trial and error,” said Sean O’Connor, Over the Bridge board member. Told Rolling stone. Once they had a few musical and lyrical samples, the creative team chose the best songs to record. Most of the instruments you hear are MIDI tracks with different layered effects.
One thing that no AI has given guidance on is how exactly Cobain allegedly sang the song. Aside from the cadence and tone, Hogan had to interpret how the suffering grunge star crippling stomach pain, would have channeled his anguish in the words.
Over the Bridge isn’t the first group to use AI to imitate a dead artist. But the intention here is different from previous similar projects. “Drowned in the Sun” is part of the organization’s Lost Tapes of the 27 Club initiative. They set out to record AI-generated songs by musicians who died aged 27 to raise awareness of mental health resources that musicians, and people more generally, can turn to when they need help. ‘help. The Toronto-based nonprofit has a Facebook page where it offers support. It also offers online sessions and workshops.
If you are having thoughts of suicide or harming yourself, you can reach the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or via an online chat.