You’re Using A DAW Now, But Soon It Will Be A GAW

Ai (artificial intelligence) is already being successfully used in a number of audio production tools, and that use will continue to grow whether we’re ready for it or not. In this excerpt from my upcoming Musician’s Ai Handbook, we look at how Ai is already being used as an integral part of a DAW, making it a GAW.

Polymorph GAW by Jay Tobin

“Combining artificial intelligence with a digital audio workstation results in a new kind of DAW called a Generative Audio Workstation, or GAW. In this case, you get an Ai composition tool capable of generating audio from text, along with the elements of a traditional DAW such as an editing timeline, audio processing and effects, and a digital mixer

What’s interesting here is the wide variety of approaches that different developers take. For instance, Aiva is touted for its music generation, but once the music is generated it can be manipulated via a browser-based DAW. Since the number of tracks that it can work with is limited, for anything more advanced you have to export the MIDI file, import it into your favorite DAW, and manipulate it via virtual instruments and plugin processors from there.

Magix Music Maker uses a different strategy in that it’s a dedicated stand-alone DAW. You select the genre and a few instruments and its “Song Maker Ai” will generate all the other parts for you. You can then edit and process the session as if you have recorded all the parts yourself.

Wavtool does something similar only it’s fully in your browser. Not only will it suggest parts and sounds, but after you’re settled on what you want you can ask it via text to make processor changes. For instance, if you type in, “Add distortion to the vocal” it will do that automatically for you. You can also ask it questions like, “What is mix buss compression?” and it will explain it to you, then ask if you want it added to your track.

Polymorph is another stand-alone software tool, but it’s a completely new approach to a DAW in that the layout is very different in that it’s totally gesture-based. That means that instead of relying on MIDI or a traditional keyboard, the app uses mouse input to create sweeping musical gestures in real-time. According to Jay Tobin, Polymorph’s creator, the “gesture-based paradigm significantly lowers the barrier of access for those looking to try experimental approaches to music production, and makes for a program equally at home on a stage mid-performance as it is in a studio setting.”

As you can see from the image above, Polymorph looks way different than any other DAW, yet it makes perfect sense after you’ve played with it a bit. As you might imagine, anything that varies that much from what we’re used to requires some retraining, but the manual and tutorials are well done and easy to follow.

There will no doubt be other GAW approaches as we go along (check out Nodal Music) since there’s no reason to stick within the current constructs if we’re making music in a different way anyway. Plus, anything that can keep you from switching platforms during the music creation process keeps it simpler with fewer possibilities for technical glitches and mistakes.”

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