Using AI to Recreate the Iconic Band for One More Song

Now and Then’ was released with a little help from artificial intelligence.

Nov 16, 2023
Using AI to Recreate the Iconic Band for One More Song | Now and Then’ was released with a little help from artificial intelligence.

The Beatles helped define a new generation of music and their popularity still soars despite the band’s breakup in 1970. The hope was always that the band would reconnect and keep making music for years to come. Now this dream has become a reality thanks to artificial intelligence. A new Beatle song, decades in the making, was just released on November 2, 2023, reported CNBC News.

The first play was on BBC Radio 2 and 6 Music. CD, vinyl and cassette copies were available the next day and will also be available on new expanded versions of The Beatles’ greatest hits album, according to The BBC.

‘Now and Then’
The song, “Now and Then” was decades in the making and almost didn’t happen. CNBC reported that John Lennon wrote and recorded a demo tape of the song with vocals and piano in 1978, two years before his tragic death. But it was never recorded and stayed in Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono’s procession.

In 1995, ahead of working on the Beatles Anthology project, Ono gave the three remaining Beatles, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, four demo tapes including Now and Then, according to Fast Company.

Two of the songs were reworked into usable songs for the documentary, book, and three-volume set of double albums, but the Now and Then demo could not be used. The quality of the cassette recording was not good enough and the vocals and piano were too merged together. The demo tape remained in McCartney’s archives.

Where does AI come in?
The idea of using artificial intelligence to rework what became the newly released song came to McCartney in 2021 during the making of The Beatles: Get Back documentary that used archival footage and audio tapes to document the making of the Let it Be album. The documentary. produced by film producer and director Peter Jackson used AI-powered audio de-mixing technology.

“Paul is not one to sit still on things,” co-producer Martin, whose father, George Martin, was the Beatles’ producer, told Fast company. “And obviously, he wanted to work with John again.”

Using the AI technology, Lennon’s vocals were isolated from the piano and background noises. Guitar parts that Harrison (who died in 2001) recorded for the 1995 project were found. These were added to McCartney's bass and vocal harmonies and Starr’s drums to make the song a reality.

But many people, including McCarthey, have some reservations about the use of AI in music. “There's a good side to it and a scary side,” he said in a  undefined podcast. “So, all that is kinda scary, but exciting because it's the future.”

The amazing part of working on the song, McCarthey told the BBC was hearing John’s voice again. “All those memories came flooding back,” McCartney said. “My God, how lucky was I to have those men in my life?

 “To still be working on Beatles music in 2023? Wow.”

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.