Become a modern-day Bach with Google’s AI-powered doodle

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Google is honouring the 334th birthday of famous German composer Johann Sebastian Bach with an AI-powered ‘doodle’ that mimics his musical style.

Users can input their own melody and the AI will create a harmony in the Baroque style of Bach.

“Bach was a humble man who attributed his success to divine inspiration and a strict work ethic,” wrote Google in a post. “He lived to see only a handful of his works published, but more than 1,000 that survived in manuscript form are now published and performed all over the world.”

Aside from being a fun way of passing time, the doodle also intends to educate users on some basic fundamentals about how machine learning works.

Google’s model for its first AI-powered doodle was trained on 330 of Bach’s compositions. It was developed by Anna Huang from Google Magenta, in partnership with the Google PAIR (People + AI Research) team which provided TensorFlow expertise to allow the experience to run in just a browser.

Huang built Coconet, the model which powers this AI doodle that can harmonise melodies or compose them from scratch.

In a technical post explaining how Coconet works, the Magenta team wrote:

“Coconet is trained to restore Bach’s music from fragments: we take a piece from Bach, randomly erase some notes, and ask the model to guess the missing notes from context.

The result is a versatile model of counterpoint that accepts arbitrarily incomplete scores as input and works out complete scores.

This setup covers a wide range of musical tasks, such as harmonizing melodies, creating smooth transitions, rewriting and elaborating existing music, and composing from scratch.”

The doodle is available on Google’s homepage between Bach’s birthday (March 21st) to the 22nd.

Creating AIs is difficult, though arguably easier than putting 334 candles on a birthday cake to honour the man himself. Well (classically-)played, Google.

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