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(Tutorial) How to write music using ChatGPT: Part 1 - Basic details and easy instructions


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I wrote a series of tutorials about creating music with ChatGPT.
Maybe these are useful for users of this forum.
Here's Part 1:

How to write music using ChatGPT: Part 1 - Basic details and easy instructions

It's your host, Low Entropy.

In this text I want to show how you can write a "complete" track or song, using ChatGPT.

My background is "experimental and sometimes very noisy Hardcore Techno", but these methods will work for any form of electronic, and any form of music really (even without electronics).

Obviously there are a lot of possible ways to use ChatGPT for music production; but I'll only talk about "my favorite" one here.
And before I get into the details, let us look at a few concepts first (or you can skip this section, and go straight to part 2, if you want to).

Part 1

1. In the 20th century, there has been progress in computer technology, and there has been progress in automation.
So much, that most people associate the one with the other, and take automation for granted when it comes to computer tech.
For example, a colleague can send you a file with the data you need for a document you work on via e-mail, and with a few clicks you can access the data, paste it into the document, and so on.
But it hasn't always been like that. For most part of the 20th century, using a computer meant a lot of manual, "analogue" work if you will, running around, physically doing stuff, and so on. There was little automation at first - humans needed to fill in a lot of the work (that is now been done by computers, too) - when working with computers.
I'll give one example: in the 80s, long before the rise of the internet, a popular way for "indie developers" to spread their games was to submit it to a computer magazine; they often published "monthly listings" and usually even gave a bit of money to the developers for such a listing.
And this meant that the actual game was published as a listing; in the magazines; endless printed lines of code! Sometimes spanning several issues of the magazine.
And the "gamers" sat at home, and typed the code into their computers; for hours and hours. Just typing in code. This could take weeks, or months maybe.
And once all the code was typed in - then, and only then you were able to run the "indie" game you got with the magazine in this way.

2. AI is a very diverse field. For example, with image generators, you can type in a prompt, and a complete, whole, finished image gets created.
Now, with music production, people too look for a way to "just type in one prompt" and get a full, finished track.
Essentially, they're looking for "100% automation" when it comes to creating music via AI. And indeed some AI services already have sprung up that head for that direction.
But I don't think this is the way to go; at least not right now, maybe it's something that becomes more suitable in the future.

One of the things here is that ChatGPT of course can't "synthesize" sounds. It's more or less text output only. Linking ChatGPT to a sound synthesizer directly has not worked for me yet.
This will disappoint people who want a "cozy and quick solution" - no "one click track production" here.
But seriously, if you are a real, human producer in electronic music, you can't synthesize your own sounds either. You need synths, drum machines and so on, as additional tools.
So we will use ChatGPT in a similar way; but more on that later.

3. The lower budget electronic music production scene is crowded with people with a DIY, "anarchist", "all-in-a-box" take on producing music; in the way of "I make my own drums, I make my own melodies, I make my own vocals" and so on. I.e. doing every aspect of your track yourself and having complete control over this.
In the past, and outside the "underground", music production often is not like this at all though; example: a famous bands wants to do an album, meets their producer, they already have rudimentary songs and vocals, and then they'll talk, talk, talk, change this or that, engineers might be involved that also give their opinion, and so on.

And, similar to this, with this method, neither ChatGPT nor you will fully have the say on your track, or "control" everything, and, yeah, there will be a lot of talking done between you and ChatGPT before you come up with results.

Part 2

So, with these things mentioned, here is the method that I want to propose to you:

You can involve ChatGPT in all aspects of the track you want to create. It can give you an idea of which track to create; it can tell you the overall theme of the track; it's structure; it's sentiment; it's direction, and so on.
It can create the melodies of the track for you. Which chord progressions to use. Which bassline. The percussion sequences. The rhythm. The BPM. When to use which filter setting. What FX to use, and when. Distortion, compression, and so. Every detail.
It can create vocals for you, and with other AI tools, these AIs can sing the vocals to your track, and you can incorporate.
It can tell you the track structure; how each channel should be arranged; when to hit the bassdrum in your track.
Essentially, it can tell you about every detail of a possible track that ChatGPT will create for you.
But more than that, it also can offer you suggestions, changes, different iterations of this track.

In reverse, you can tell ChatGPT everything about the track that it should create for you. Should it be hard or soft? Slow or fast? Aggressive or mellow?
Should it be about love? Sadness? Anger? Tranquility?
Should it have a theme? What thoughts should it address? What emotion?
Even totally abstract concepts - "Create a track that will remind me of playing chess".
There are literally no limits!

But, here is the "catch";
While ChatGPT can do all the creative work you want; with this method, you will have to do a lot of *manual work*
"Physical" typing, copying, entering notes, doing things.

As I won't "connect" ChatGPT directly to a synthesizer; instead, ChatGPT will give you all the output you need, but *you* then need to power up your DAW, or whatever equipment you use, and "enter" the notes, data, that ChatGPT outputs, into your DAW!
Essentially, you will become a kind of "mixing engineer" to ChatGPT; ChatGPT is the fat cat music producer with brainy creativity, and tells you which knob to turn and which button to hit.

This is nothing for the lazy, I can assure you, and can actually take quite some time! And I'm sure a lot of "hobby armchair producers" will not be interested in this method at this point anymore.

Although, of course, it's up to you how much of the creative process you hand over to ChatGPT; you can still play executive producer, too!

Part 3

So how does it work?
This depends a lot on the track you want to create, and in what way you want to involve ChatGPT.

I'll give some practical example.

1. Creating an 90s Acid Trance type track

Start your ChatGPT session. And remember: the more info you give ChatGPT, the better. and the more exact you are with your information, the better.
Introduce yourself to ChatGPT. tell it that you are a producer, give some details about your productions and your usual production styles; the DAW or equipment you use, and so on.
Tell ChatGPT everything about the project; what kind of track you envision, how it should sound, maybe even the emotions you want to convey.
Ask it to create the notes for a 16 note 90s type acid trance bassline loop.
You can try the notes in your DAW already (use a bass synthesizer, obviously). Does it sound right? If not, what needs to be changed? Tell ChatGPT to make the bassline more chaotic, or more mellow, or more driving, or more "oldschool", whatever you want.
Talk with ChatGPTand find the right bassline.

Essentially, do the same with all the other elements of the track.
Ask it to create a melody to use.
A percussion rhythm to use.
FX or other elements to use.

"Type" the notes and sequences into your DAW and see if you like them; if not, use the same process as above and ask for changes.

Reminder: it tremendously helps to tell ChatGPT about your DAW and which softsynths, drum machine emulation, etc. you use.
For example "I'm using an 808 clone" and then ask it to create a percussion sequence for that.
You can even give details like that you want the 808 cowbell sound to be prominent, and so on.

Now, that you have all loops and basic sequences ready, you can ask ChatGPT about the structure of the track.
When does the bassdrum need to come in, when does the breakdown happen, when does the main melody get introduced, and more.

Again, if ChatGPT's output is not detailed enough, or to you liking, you can tell this to ChatGPT, and get ChatGPT to be as specific as you want.
For example, at first it might give a more general output like 'make sure the bassdrum gets introduced at the climax of the track' or something in that vain; but you can ask ChatGPT to tell you the exact beat and bar when each elements of the track comes in, or gets cut off again.

You can also ask ChatGPT about any other aspect or part of the track that you want.
It will output everything; but you need to "punch it" into your DAW.

2. Creating an oldschool gabber techno track

Similar to above. But you could, for example, do the following:

Tell it you have a "hoover" juno synth type sound, and it should create a sequence for you that you can use this sound with.
Or that you have a t99 type sound and want it to create an epic gabber melody out of it for you.

3. General brainstorming

In the above examples, you already had a specific concept for a track; and you used ChatGPT to create all the "lower" details.
You can of course do the total opposite, too.
Ask ChatGPT to give you ideas about possible tracks.

For example: tell it that you want to create a track with electronic beats and an epic feel, and let it suggest to you which way to go on with this.

Second example: you want to do a track, and it should have a hard, driving drum, and epic vocals; but you don't have more ideas yet. Let ChatGPT suggest additional ideas, so that you have a complete track. Let it write the vocals for you. go on from there.

Even start totally from scratch; you want to create an electronic track, and ChatGPT should brainstorm for you and give you ideas; let it suggest a genre, overall concept, and so on.

Using "both" methods, you can create a full track, and involve ChatGPT in every part of the production process.

Part 4

There is more to be said, and more examples could be given; but I'll stop the text here. Let's just add two final things:

Of course this is no "perfect, one fix solution". You might not like some of the ideas ChatGPT does give you. Also ChatGPT might not understand all the ideas *you* tell it. But you can talk with ChatGPT about it and you can try to fix it that way.

Again, this is not really automatized; in some cases, if you just can't seem to agree with ChatGPT, it might even be better if you do some parts of the track "by yourself", like creating a melody in the old-fashioned form - on your own!

Also, as mentioned, it can involve a lot of "manual" work and copying and pasting and typing in data; and a lot of people won't like the idea to become the "mixing engineer" to ChatGPT and been told which note play and which fader to slide.

But, if you're into AI music production, this can be a lot of fun, the results can be very rewarding and, let me assure, truly mind blowing!