Google is trying to create artificial intelligence (AI) capable of making art — and it has now taught it to play piano.
A new experiment from the Californian technology giant lets you play musical duets with a piano-playing AI.
The project, called “A.I. DUET,” uses neural network technology to learn how to play the instrument in response to the user’s input.
You just play a tune — as simple or complex as you want — and then the AI plays a response to your tune back to you.
“You don’t even have to know how to play piano — it’s fun to just press some keys and listen to what comes back,” Google employee Alexander Chen wrote in a blog post.
“We hope it inspires you — whether you’re a developer or musician, or just curious — to imagine how technology can help creative ideas come to life.”
I gave it a go, and the results were mixed: Sometimes, it sounded fantastic, like there was a real pianist responding to my music. Other times, it was nonsensical, jarring, or overly simple.
But what makes this experiment so interesting — and different to traditional piano-playing computer programs — is how it works, using neural networks. Its creators didn’t program specific responses into it — they just gave it a load of music, and from that it taught itself how to respond to different tunes.
“We played the computers tons of examples of melodies. Ove time, it learns these fuzzy relationships between tones and timings, and built its own map based on the examples it’s given,” Google employee Yotam Mann said in a video. “So in this experiment you play a few notes, they go to the neural net, which basically decides based on those notes and all the examples it’s been given some possible responses.”
He added: “It picks up on stuff like key and rhythm that you’re implying, even though I never explicitly programmed the concepts of key and rhythm.”
You can play it directly from your computer, using your keyboard or your mouse. Or if you’re more musically inclined, you can plug a proper musical keyboard straight into your computer, and play with the AI that way.
And this isn’t just a fun toy for anyone to play with — though it is that as well. It’s part of a larger project from Google to try and create art and music using AI. The project is called Magenta, and it’s all open source, so anyone interested can download the code and experiment with it for themselves.
There’s a video of Yotam Mann talking about the experiment below, and you can play with it here »
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