With its new music-and-art project, called Magenta, Google is putting the "art" in artificial intelligence. Sorry. The minds inside the Google Brain team have released a 90-second piano melody that was generated through machine learning. The project, first announced at Moogfest, is built on top of Google’s TensorFlow, the web giant’s open-source AI engine.
Magenta’s algorithm was primed with only four notes to start with, and it took off from there to plunk out a verse and bridge of sorts. The drum parts were added later for texture. According to researchers, the project’s biggest challenge wasn’t getting the machine to create a tune, but to make it surprising and/or compelling. "So much machine-generated music and art is good in small chunks, but lacks any sort of long-term narrative arc," wrote Magenta scientist Douglas Eck in a blog post introducing the project.