Google Celebrates Bach With First AI-Powered Doodle

Johann Sebastian Bach Google
Courtesy of Google

Google doodle of Johann Sebastian Bach.

In celebration of one of the world’s most impactful composers, Johann Sebastian Bach, Google Doodle has created their first ever AI-powered Doodle to encourage even the less musically-inclined to create Bach-like melodies of their own.

At first, the intricately-designed Google banner -- which depicts a magical music box with a piano and 18th century powdered wig-clad Bach cartoon inside -- seems much like the previous Doodles. However, once users click on it, they can begin to compose a two measure melody with the mini band, which then transforms into Bach’s signature classical music style with the press of a button.

In a statement from Google, the company revealed that they created the elaborate game in partnership with Google Magenta and Google PAIR teams in order to give users an “unboxing experience.” They took many steps in order to perfect it, with the first one being to create a “machine learning model to power it.”

“Machine learning is the process of teaching a computer to come up with its own answers by showing it a lot of examples, instead of giving it a set of rules to follow as is done in traditional computer programming,” the statement reads.

The model used in the Doodle was developed by Magenta Team AI Resident Anna Huang. She developed Coconet, which is a “versatile model that can be used in a wide range of musical tasks.” Coconet was trained on 306 of the German composer’s chorale harmonizations.

In a video accompanying their statement, Huang talked about Bach -- whose birthdate was March 31, 1685, though his birthday is celebrated on the 21st -- and how she developed her idea.

“He has a style that’s very concise but at the same time is very rich,” she said in the video. “Before the Doodle, how we were interacting with the model is we were writing in a text editor zeros and ones. It was a very tedious process, but with the Doodle we were really able to play with the model in a very interactive way.”

Watch the full video to understand more of the story behind the development of Bach’s Doodle.


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