Bach Google Doodle - AI Powered Creativity
Written by Sue Gee   
Saturday, 23 March 2019

To celebrate the 334th anniversary of the birth of Johann Sebastian Bach, Google produced an interactive doodle that lets you write a short melody and have it harmonized in the style of Bach.  

googlebachdoodle

This is a particularly impressive Google Doodle. It is the first one to incorporate machine learning and the result is a delightful experience.

On March 20th and now  courtesy of the Doodle archive, many visitors to Google'a home page encountered not just an animation but an app that allowed them to make music. As Google put it:

Today we celebrate world renowned German composer and musician Johann Sebastian Bach with our first ever AI-powered Doodle! Made in partnership with the Google Magenta and Google PAIR teams, the Doodle is an interactive experience encouraging players to compose a two measure melody of their choice. With the press of a button, the Doodle then uses machine learning to harmonize the custom melody into Bach’s signature music style.

This video explains how it was achieved and introduces the people who created the Auto Bach Machine that relies on machine learning:

As explained on the Magenta blog the Auto Bach Machine uses  a machine learning model called Coconet, which has been trained using a dataset of 306 chorale harmonizations by Bach to generate polyphonic music in the style of Bach. To train it the Magenta team take an example from the Bach chorales dataset of four-part counterpoint, randomly erase some notes, and ask the model to reconstruct the erased notes. 

For the Doodle, the Coconet model runs in the browser using a Tensorflow.js implementation. The Doodle is also served with Google’s new Tensor Processing Units (TPUs), a way of quickly handling machine learning tasks in data centers— yet another Doodle first!

Once you have entered your own two-measure melody line, the black notes for the soprano voice, AutoBach adds alto, tenor and bass. My first attempt was not very tuneful, even with the counterpoint, but I discovered that by entering fewer notes, AutoBach could produce a much more pleasing result.googlebachdoodlesq 

Don't worry if you missed the Google Doodle on March 20th, or you want to continue playing with it. It is still available here.

 

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 23 March 2019 )