Sting discusses AI’s songwriting abilities: “It’s soul work, and machines don’t have souls”

“Not yet anyway…”


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Sting has weighed in on the role of AI in music-making, saying he doesn’t fear the technology because songwriting is “soul work” and “machines don’t have souls”.

Asked if he thinks computers are capable of making good songs in a new interview with Music Week, Sting replied, “The analogy for me is watching a movie with CGI. I tend to be bored very quickly, because I know the actors can’t see the monster. So I really feel the same way about AI being able to compose songs.”

“Basically, it’s an algorithm and it has a massive amount of information, but it would lack just that human spark, that imperfection, if you like, that makes it unique to any artist, so I don’t really fear it.”

“A lot of music could be created by AI quite efficiently,” he added. “I think electronic dance music can still be very effective without involving humans at all. But songwriting is very personal. It’s soul work, and machines don’t have souls. Not yet anyway…”

Elsewhere in the chat, the musician also offered his thoughts on Ed Sheeran’s recent Thinking Out Loud copyright case, saying “No one can claim a set of chords. No one can say, ‘Oh that’s my set of chords.’ I think [Sheeran] said, ‘Look songs fit over each other.’ They do, so I think all of this stuff is nonsense and it’s hard for a jury to understand, that’s the problem.”

“They can be bamboozled by a musicologist saying, ‘There are four notes here that are concurrent.’ No, no, it doesn’t work that way. But all songs are related, and publishing is quite a recent thing. Classical composers would take a theme from another composer and say, ‘This is based on a theme by Brahms and it will be fine,’ but there was no publishing.”

“So that was the truth, musicians steal from each other – we always have. I don’t know who can claim to own a rhythm or a set of chords at all, it’s virtually impossible.”

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