Jam on a virtual piano with Google’s new AI

I don’t have a musical bone in my body, which would typically mean finding someone to join me in a duet would be a challenge. If AI does nothing else for humanity in the next few years (and that would be a somewhat foolish bet to make), it will at least have granted my wish and given me somebody to jam with. Or something, more accurately.

Google’s latest AI experiment isn’t only interested in playing alongside me, either. You can head over to AI Duet right now and have a play along, either using a MIDI keyboard, your mouse or your keyboard to make sweet, sweet melodies together. Even if you’re just hammering notes like an overenthusiastic whack-a-mole player, the AI will use its experience of classical music to try and make something that matches.google_musical_duet_ai

The project is the work of coder and musician Yotam Mann and Google. The AI was played “tons of examples of melodies,” and the neural networks began to learn the relationship between notes and timings. The upshot is when you play a random selection of notes into the piano, the AI will do its best to jam along with you, based on its knowledge of classical music.

“It picks up on stuff like key and rhythm that you’re implying, even though I never explicitly programmed in the concepts of key and rhythm,” Mann explains.

Go ahead and give the virtual ivories a tinkle – it’s Friday after all, end even if you’re not musical, there’s something charmingly intimate about having your ephemeral key strokes responded to in real time.

Personally I found the results to be pretty good too, with the experiment gamely trying to keep pace with my random pokings, but I’d be interested to hear from actual musicians. Does the AI seem impressive, or am I just impressed because I don’t understand music? Do leave a comment if you can answer that question.

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