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Where an AI Songwriting Tool Succeeds, and Where It Fails

Where an AI Songwriting Tool Succeeds, and Where It Fails

John Bohlinger puts an AI tool to the test—and finds a dog that says meow.

The AI driven paradigm shift is upon us, and it’s happening much quicker than we anticipated. You’ve undoubtedly seen AI make amazing stuff, but I was shocked when I checked out AI songwriting site suno.com. When prompted, I typed: “An acoustic-rock-style song. Dog is a compassionate counselor to humans but secretly a serial killer.”



In roughly 20 seconds, Suno gave me two renditions of “The Whispering Canine.” The two-minute, three-verse versions of the song had a full-band recording, with a lead vocal bleeding with angst and well-placed harmonies. The lyrics were, for the most part, great—way better than any first draft I’ve had in a co-write.

If you want to hear “The Whispering Canine”, here’s a link: https://suno.com/song/4a8d8c14-e4b0-49db-9c33-57d36714f627

In the shadows, he hides,

A faithful companion, by your side

With empathetic eyes, he'll understand

But beware, my friend, of the murderous plan

He listens to your deepest thoughts

A compassionate counselor, never caught

But deep inside, his twisted scheme

He waits for the moment, to fulfill his dark dream

He licks your wounds, with gentle care

A loyal confidant, pretending to share

But as the night falls, he stalks his prey

A secret killer in the guise of a stray

The one glitch is that the AI used a solitary black cat in a scary alley rather than a dog. I don’t know if it mistook the image for a sinister dog or thought a cat was a better choice. Let’s face it, cats are far more likely to be serial killers than dogs. So maybe this gentle nudge from AI was a polite improvement. Of course, the title should probably be changed to “The Feline Whisper.”

“If I were still writing for a publisher, my songwriting would probably start with Suno … but I’d miss out on the journey, and that’s the best part.”

So what is Suno? Suno is a web-based, text-to-music generator that can whip up full songs in seconds from a simple text prompt. With the free version, Suno retains ownership of its masterpiece, but the sound recordings can be used for lawful, non-commercial purposes, with attribution credit to Suno. For $8 per month, Suno subscribers own the sound recording, as long as they comply with the terms of service. You can also use the songs commercially, for example, on YouTube or even uploading them to Spotify or Apple Music. The Suno site says: “Unleash Your Creativity: Dive into the world of music-making and let your imagination run wild. Happy composing!”

If this is composing, then ordering takeout is cooking dinner. AI creates songs much like humans do in a songwriting session. But instead of one to three people digging through their notes of clever words, phrases, and melodies they have heard, AI gleans the info from every song, movie, book, etc., and combines the pieces. The only ingredient missing is personal experience. AI uses the thoughts and experiences of everything that’s ever been written that makes it online.

AI is not bad for art. Art is going to be fine. AI will produce amazing work alone and in collaboration with humans, and humans will be inspired to stretch the envelope to outdo AI. But I do feel bad for my daughter’s generation. If I were still writing for a publisher, my songwriting would probably start with Suno, then I’d tweak the results, like adding a chorus to “The Whispering Canine.” But I’d miss out on the journey, and that’s the best part. Songwriting is an opportunity to deeply analyze the most interesting part of life: love, loss, heartache, compassionate serial-killer dogs, etc. Songwriting is hard and time-consuming, but it’s good for you to do hard things. The law of the universe is you get out of it what you put into it. If AI does all your heavy lifting emotionally and mentally, all you get is “The Whispering Canine,” not the experience, not the personal growth, not the challenge, not the sense of accomplishment, and, in the end, not the joy of creating something.

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