About the beauty and dilemma of Randy Travis' new song Artificial Intelligence


The trauma of losing Randy Travis' voice in 2013 after a near-fatal stroke is something the country music community is still trying to recover from, tempered somewhat by the blessing that we still have Randy with us to cherish and celebrate in country music. The community of which he was an integral part.

The voice and music of Randy Travis were the catalyst for the neo-traditional renaissance of the 1980s that brought country music back to its heart. Over the years, we've had opportunities to hear Randy's unreleased tracks stored over the years, while The Promise From more unheard Randy Travis songs Recorded at the peak of its activity will still exist in the near future.

But instead of Randy being able to sing new original songs due to his persistent aphasia, he's partnered with his old label Warner Music Nashville to release a new song called “Where That Came From.” Written by acclaimed songwriters Scottie Emerick and John Scott Sherrill, and produced by Kyle Lehning, Travis's longtime producer with Jerry Douglas, “Where I Come From” sounds like a Randy Travis song written and recorded at the height of his glory.

The release of the song came with a lot of noise from Randy in the studio, flashes of microphones in the foreground and background, with Randy sitting there with his headphones on, seeming to enjoy the whole experience.

It is important to note that although Randy is non-verbal, those close to Travis confirm that he is still 100% cognitive, conscious, perceptive, and even communicative through simple visual affirmations, as well as writing or typing things he desires. To communicate.

Also, Randy Travis has shown some rudimentary singing ability over the years since his stroke, including performances of the songs “Amazing Grace” and “Forever and Ever, Amen”. As weak as these performances are, to some it still feels like a miracle how far Randy has come. In the case of some brain injuries and stuttering (Mel Tellis), there are cases where people cannot speak easily, but are much better at singing as these two functions are handled by different parts of the brain.

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But that's not what happens in “Where That Came From.” Although there has been absolutely no revelation yet, it is clear that Warner Music Nashville and Randy Travis' camp are using some sort of performance-generating AI version of Randy Travis. This presents an ethical dilemma, hitherto unprecedented in the music business.

From one point of view, the idea that while Randy Travis lives but is unable to sing full songs, he can dictate and sign off on the production of new Randy Travis music seems miraculous. In an ideal sense, this is something that technology and AI can advance and enhance our lives. How is this different from adding a prosthetic or robotic limb to a person with hemiplegia? This is technology that replaces what was taken from us.

But in other words, this is the technology that creates the facade of an authentic performance from Randy Travis, while most of us know he didn't actually sing this performance, while some may be completely fooled into thinking he did, especially because of the way he sang it. The song is being marketed. As great as Randy's voice is on a new and unique song, it would obviously mean something different if you knew he didn't actually sing it.

The nuances, the pauses and breaths, the intonations, the imperfections, the indefinable soul—these are all the things that go into songwriting, and a country song in particular. He is human by nature. And although algorithmic improvements can try to simulate such things to trick the senses, you still inherently know that what you're listening to isn't real.

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However, we can still enjoy “Where That Came From” as country music fans and as fans of Randy Travis as the closest thing to Randy Travis possible. But the biggest dilemma with this release is Warner Music Nashville's lack of disclosure about what's going on. As he said saving country music when Addressing the beginning of artificial intelligence in the music industry In early 2023:

“Music should be labeled so you know where it comes from, just like food. It should be labeled as 100% certified organic, or contain a list of the artificial ingredients that went into making it so consumers can make informed choices. The industry's insistence on Proper music labeling has to start now, today because AI exists, is powerful, and will quickly disrupt the music landscape if not addressed.

We all know that Randy Travis didn't sing “Where That Came From” in real time, but was taken from previous performances stitched together by technology. However, not disclosing this to the public sets a bad precedent. It's not the song, it's a kind of subtle wink-and-nod aspect that in some ways drained the emotion from the experience.

“Where did that come from” is actually a great talking point about AI and music, and so we need to have that discussion rather than allow it to be part of the technological AI creep that can eventually, and perhaps will, replace all carbon-based music performances Technology so that the industry can simplify production and reduce costs.

Meanwhile, it looks like more of this music from Randy Travis is coming. There was some confusion that “Where That Came From” would be an EP or album, and not just a single due to some marketing wording. A teaser video shows Cole Swindle and Cody Johnson in the studio, perhaps a nod to the upcoming collaboration. They also seem to be teasing that they will eventually reveal how it all happened, and they likely will. But doing so late sets a bad precedent.

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While saving country music is about to finish this article, painting He revealed that “Where He Came From” will be officially revealed to be created using artificial intelligence via a clip CBS Sunday Morning It will air on May 5. Warner Music Nashville's Chris Lacy was quoted as saying in the report, which will air Sunday, “It's Randy Travis. Randy is on the other side of the microphone… and it's still his voice. There's no reason he can't make music… and to deny him that, if he still wants to do it, is unreasonable to me.”

Artificial intelligence promises promising, but potentially disastrous, advances for the music industry and everything else in life. Asking the audience to suspend disbelief as Warner Music Nashville did here will only help achieve the latter result if we are not careful.

But all those debates aside, it's encouraging to hear a new Randy Travis song, embellished with the closest thing we can get to the original Randy Travis sound that we all fell in love with, and who saved country music in the '80s.

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