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Paul McCartney Unveils 'Last Beatles Record' Using AI: Extracts John Lennon's Voice from Old Demo

AI technology employed to extract John Lennon's voice from a vintage demo, leading to the creation of a final Beatles song, as shared by Paul McCartney.

The Beatles
Credit: Shutterstock

Paul McCartney, the 80-year-old music legend, disclosed in an interview with the BBC that artificial intelligence was utilised to isolate the voices of the Beatles from background noises during the production of the 2021 documentary series "The Beatles: Get Back," directed by Peter Jackson. He further revealed that this innovative technology has enabled the upcoming release of a "new" Beatles track later this year.

Through AI, Jackson successfully separated John Lennon's voice from a modest-quality cassette recording and piano accompaniment. McCartney explained that the AI system was instructed to distinguish between vocals and other musical elements, resulting in a demo that the band members collaborated on. The AI-based process allowed them to refine Lennon's voice and integrate it seamlessly into the record, granting flexibility in the mixing process.

While McCartney did not disclose the demo's title, sources including the BBC suggest it may be an unfinished love song from 1978 titled "Now and Then." The cassette containing the demo was labeled "For Paul" and had been presented to McCartney by Yoko Ono, Lennon's widow.

Credit: Invision/AP

Reflecting on the use of AI technology, McCartney described it as both thrilling and unnerving. He expressed curiosity about the potential future implications of this technology, emphasizing the need to observe its future trajectory.

Notably, McCartney had previously experienced a virtual duet with Lennon at last year's Glastonbury Festival using the same AI technology. The process involved Holly Herndon, an artist with expertise in composition and AI, who had developed an online protocol named Holly+. This protocol allowed users to upload tracks for reinterpretation by a deepfake version of Herndon's voice. Herndon explained that the Beatles' recording likely employed a technique known as "source separation," which involves extracting vocals from a recording and layering new instrumental accompaniment.

McCartney will soon inaugurate an exhibition titled "Eyes of the Storm" at the National Portrait Gallery in London. The exhibition features McCartney's previously unseen photographs captured during the Beatles' early days, showcasing over 250 images taken between 1963 and 1964. These photographs offer a glimpse into the rise of "Beatlemania" and feature portraits of Ringo Starr, George Harrison, John Lennon and Beatles manager Brian Epstein.

  • Artificial intelligence was employed to extract John Lennon's voice from an old demo, resulting in the creation of a final Beatles song.

  • The AI technology used by director Peter Jackson in the making of the documentary series "The Beatles: Get Back" facilitated the separation of voices from background sounds.

  • The new Beatles track, utilising Lennon's voice, is scheduled for release later this year.

  • The demo is believed to be an unfinished love song called "Now and Then."

  • Paul McCartney expressed both excitement and concern about the use of AI technology.

  • The AI system enabled McCartney's virtual duet with Lennon at Glastonbury Festival.

  • The Beatles' recording likely employed a technique called "source separation."

  • McCartney's exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London showcases his unseen photographs from the early days of the Beatles.

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