Following yesterday’s Spring (or Fall) Doodle that also appeared in the Pixel Launcher’s search bar, Google is celebrating Johann Sebastian Bach. This music making experience is Google’s first AI-powered Doodle, and lets users create a harmonized melody in the style of the Baroque composer.
The March 21st Doodle marks the composer’s birthday and starts by asking users to create a melody. A machine learning model then works to harmonize it in Bach’s style. This interactive experience involved engineers, designers, and resources from across the company.
Founded in 2016, the Magenta team tasked with “exploring the role of machine learning as a tool in the creative process” supplied Coconet. This ML model can compose from scratch, create smooth transitions, rewrite music, and of course harmonize melodies.
Specifically, Coconet was trained on 306 of Bach’s chorale harmonizations. His chorales always have four voices, each carrying their own melodic line, while creating a rich harmonic progression when played together. This concise structure made them good training data for a machine learning model.
Meanwhile, the People + AI Research (PAIR) team — which helps make ML more widely available — helped to get Coconet up and running in web browsers using TensorFlow.js. Devices that aren’t fast enough for this experience are instead powered by Tensor Processing Units in the cloud. Google notes that this is also the first Doodle to leverage its powerful TPUs.
For those that are not musically or technologically savvy, the Google Doodle will briefly walk you through the basic concepts behind both fields. The actual interface is a skeumorphic music box that works on both the desktop web and mobile. There are various customizations, but the Doodle is for everyone and an equally fun experience to click around in. You can even download your 8 second creation as a MIDI file once finished.
The Bach Doodle is available in Chrome’s New Tab page and google.com on most devices.