Bach to the future: AI turns Google Doodle into clever melody maker

March 21, 2019
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Google has celebrated legendary composer Johann Sebastian Bach by creating the first-ever Doodle to be powered by artificial intelligence (AI).

The animation, which sits atop of the search engine’s website, shows the 18th-century composer playing an organ – commemorating his day of birth on 21 March 1685.

In an interactive twist, the Google Doodle encourages users to compose their own two-measure melody.

Machine learning is then used to “harmonise the custom melody into Bach’s signature music style”.

Google has used new tech to celebrate Johann Sebastian Bach's birthday
Image:
Google has used new tech to celebrate Johann Sebastian Bach’s birthday

Bach’s chorales were known for having four voices carrying their own melodic line.

To develop the AI-powered Google Doodle, the tech giant’s developers created a machine-learning model that was trained on 306 of Bach’s chorale harmonisations.

Another team worked to allow machine learning to occur within the web browser instead of on its servers.

You can click on different lines to create your own melody
Image:
Users can click on different lines to create their own melody

In another intriguing detail, Google has said some users will be able to do an 80s rock number “if they happen to find a very special Easter egg in the Doodle”.

Bach was a German classical composer of the Baroque period, and grew up in a large musical family.

His reputation soared in the 19th century as the music world gained new appreciation for his innovative use of four-part harmony.



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