Eli Weiss, a film production student at Chapman University in California, used Shortly Read, an AI writing application that includes GPT-3, the powerful third-generation language model for machine learning developed by OpenAI, a nonprofit artificial intelligence research group, supported by Elon Musk.
GPT-3 came with 45 TB of text data, presumably including the full text for Hamilton, and can generate a range of written content with simple inputs.
Weiss and his team came up with this one sentence: “Here are the lyrics to a new song from the hit musical Hamilton: An American Musical.” The program then created lyrics to a melody with four verses, a chorus, and a bridge that correctly identify the characters in the story and their relationships with one another.
“It’s mixed up a few times, like Hillary Clinton showing up briefly,” said Weiss, a big Hamilton fan, “but overall it’s incredibly convincing.”
In fact, most of the lyrics, both verbally and cadently, feel like they fit right into the musical, which tells the story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton largely through hip-hop. “I wrote my way out of hell, I wrote 6 feet behind the grave. I wrote a song about you, the only thing that kept me safe,” the AI texts say.
Keep your brain entertained with the coolest news, from streaming to superheroes, memes to video games.
GPT-3 generates word sequences that are often amazingly human, but can also contain some amusing surprises.
In the case of the new Hamilton song, Hamilton’s devoted wife gives him a highly undesirable gift: “I met a certain young lady named Eliza and I’m 90% sure she gave me syphilis. But I hope I gave it back to you . “”
Then there is the reference to Hillary Clinton as “my new Eliza”. The machine learning tool likely linked the former secretary of state to Hamilton texts referencing this government post. How Clinton becomes Hamilton’s new love is everyone’s AI guess.
Weiss’ friend Michael Gribble, a film music student, set the song written by the AI to music and performed it in the video above. However, this is not the first time AI has written a new Hamilton song. A few years ago, the creative Max Deutsch trained a neural network for the lyrics of the musical and asked it to develop a new melody.
AI is becoming an increasingly visible actor in the creative field, doing everything from generating Katy Perry and Elvis songs to painting nude portraits to making poetry in the style of the classics. Sometimes the results are really related to human experience. Other times, they’re downright scary.
Weiss and his creative partner Jacob Vaus are fascinated by the creative potential of AI and have used it to write scripts and compose other songs.
“Right now, most of this work still has that comedic charm, but I think we’ll see a lot of it somewhere in the middle of that spectrum in the years to come,” says Weiss. “AI is used here and there in the creative process to fill in gaps and make adjustments.”