“It would’ve taken me no time to come up with these two things”: Here’s what happened when a pro film composer tried to use ChatGPT to create an original movie theme

ChatGPT is already being used to take the legwork out of a wide variety of tasks - computer coding, to give just one example - but how does it fare in a more creative context? At the request of ROLI, movie and TV composer Juan Dussán decided to try and find out.

He set himself the challenge of creating a section of original movie soundtrack using just musical ideas generated by ChatGPT - specifically, a tool known as Cinematic Composer Assistant that was created using the latest version of the much-talked-about AI chatbot.

This isn’t able to generate MIDI but, based on text prompts, it can produce ABC notation, which Dussán could then convert into MIDI data and load into his DAW.

Starting with the idea of creating an ‘epic adventure theme’, Dussán began by tasking ChatGPT with coming up with a main melody and countermelody. After various refinements, it did the job, but not to the composer’s great satisfaction.

“So far this has been kind of a headache. I’m not gonna lie to you,” Dussán says at one point. “It would’ve taken me no time to come up with these two things: a melody and a countermelody.”

Not exactly a timesaver, then, and certainly not a ‘machine’ capable of producing better results than a human, and there were other problems, too. At times, ChatGPT failed to recognise sharps and flats, and to create musical parts that truly complemented each other.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Dussán was left with a mixed view of ChatGPT’s creative capabilities. “The melody was actually pretty catchy, I actually ended up liking it,” he says, but feels that the software needs to get better at understanding “basic” music theory and how it’s applied.

The technology is still in its infancy, though, and we certainly wouldn’t bet against ChatGPT and similar tools becoming invaluable creative partners in the not-so-far-away future.

Find out more about Dussán's experiment on the ROLI website.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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