Saturday, April 13, 2024

The AI Music Map

Over the last few days my Twitter feed has been lit up by people sharing the songs that they have created on Udio. For the one or two cave dwellers out there who have only just installed spelunking wi-fi, Udio is an AI-powered music generation tool which allows users to create songs from a text prompt. The tool allows you to create tunes with customized lyrics, vocal styles, and musical genres.

Because I happen to follow a lot of cartographers and geographers many of the AI songs I have seen on Twitter have a map theme. However Darren Wiens has to get a special mention for creating the first Udio-map mash-up. His Longitunes interactive globe allows you to click on lines of longitude around the world to listen to an AI-generated song about that specific pole-to-pole segment of the Earth.

Of course using music as a navigational aide isn't new. Long before maps and compasses were invented the indigenous people of Australia were able to navigate using the songlines of the Gods. Songlines, or dreaming tracks, are the creation myths of Indigenous Australians. They are the paths that the creator-beings took across the world while naming and creating the features of the land. 

These songlines crisscross Australia and, if you know the songline, you can follow the routes that the creator-beings took across the country. By singing the songlines indigenous people can actually navigate vast distances, often travelling through the deserts of Australia's interior. You can learn more about songlines from different parts of Australia on ABC's Singing the Country into Life, which explores the songlines of a number of indigenous groups across the whole of Australia.

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