Melted Thunder Glows: experiments in cybernetic lyric generation

These lyrics were created as part of an ongoing lyric-writing project that involves the use of computers and in part AI. The aim is to finish compiling all the lyrics from select songwriters, and use the poet analyzer component of Ray Kurzweil’s Cybernetic Poet to create a poet personality for each songwriter. (For readers unfamiliar with this program, the poet analyzer ‘reads’ all of the input poetry you give it and creates a ‘personality’ based on pattern recognition of the template poems.)

When composing a poem or lyric with the Cybernetic Poet, you open ‘assistant’ windows each based on a selected poet personality, and each of which is capable of independently generating alliteration, rhymes/endings, next word, rest of line, or rest of poem, based on your initial input.

To date, I have generated personalities for songwriters David Bowie, Marc Bolan, Neil Young, and the poet Kenneth Patchen. I am currently compiling the lyrics of Syd Barrett, Don van Vliet, and others. Further experiments will include Oulippian techniques of word, phrase and grammar manipulation.

The Poet Assistant can be useful while working on one’s own lyrics, as it can provide see what word or phrase Bowie or Lennon might have used next, the process can get even more interesting when you combine personalities.

For example, once you have a personality file, you can then cross breed that file with any other file (the program comes with personality files for most well known poets).

Neil Young and Shakespeare:

You saved my broken knees
You saved my soul instead
In its setting
Saved my sorrow’s share?

Kenneth Patchen and Marc Bolan:

Tears are they will be your shoulders
Fleetfoot voodoo man
Graveyard of such a man with your head
Into the true worlds
Into the highways
On a groove
Into the sea

You can of course create a poet personality of your own poetry/lyrics and add it to the mix. The three lyrics presented here were written in about 5 minutes each, using the poet assistants. Some editing was done to fix grammar and usage glitches, though much of the text is exactly how the computer generated it. While the Cybernetic Poet may not pass a Turing Test yet, its unexpected originality and ability to inspire ideas and imagery makes it an essential tool for the experimental lyricist.

She’s laughing at the blues

By Marc Wolf assisted by Ray Kurzweil’s Cybernetic Poet after reading lyrcs by Marc Bolan

she’s laughing at the blues
Played so fine my toes
with a dude unscrewed and gold
his silver fur on the Queen of love

from the Ballrooms of men
I could never understand
the children of the night
monsters call it strange

never kissed the skies
the seekers were betrayed
of the heavy world
I could be clean you like

she’s laughing at the blues
dancing so sweet
like a prophet of rock
vampire man with boots

beneath the canyons
the strings of grapes is in your bedroom
Love you always in stone
Upon the beach of space

she’s laughing at the blues
I’m feeling such a bright star baby
‘cos babe you shine like a ball
and the world melted in my head

Melted Thunder Glows

By Marc Wolf assisted by Ray Kurzweil’s Cybernetic Poet after reading Lyrics by David Bowie

melted thunder glows
like a toy Monkey made for you
in her country’s name

like a coat with a tear
and you’re in

He died, but he’s up
and I got nothin’ to be
But freedom

Just another line
He calls my face splashed

In sleep
They don’t pick up my message

Monkeys made him for you
I’d like before, her country’s name
I’d like a coat with a tear and you’re in

At least you’re wonderful
Oh no, you’re saying
We’re here to bed
Don’t let them know of things?

the planet is a kite
Jimmy’s ill with peppercorn
and his bike sings prayers and goes round
But don’t say we’re strangers or gold
Or Sell me a coat ‘cause I don’t feel cold

I’ll stay clean tonight
I’m over me
just as well

Don’t let the rhythm of a Bond Street picture house
Desert your prayer
prayers fit among your voices

Rock You’ll Stay With Me

By Marc Wolf assisted by Ray Kurzweil’s Cybernetic Poet after reading Lyrics by Neil Young

riding downtown the one
Rock and you gotta get back to me
Live with me a while
but will the junk-man sell you down?

best right out that he could be in space
like something I know to hide
my friends call it
Rock and you gotta get back to me

and the moonlit morning music
coming from my Cadillac
day was a young enough
Singin’ with the porch

and a lonely cowgirl kneels by the river
the wind blowing through her hair
I try to move the sky
over the noisy Mississippi

rock, you’ll stay here for you got the man
I think of wonders to go
downtown trippin’ dawn’s in the road
an angry tide upon Atlantis

was it the same man
who carried the colored balloons?
on a sidewalk for
rock, you’ll stay with me