Google’s new piano gadget means ANYONE can improvise classical music

17 October 2018, 16:55

Piano Genie Improvisation #2

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

The new controller allows you to improvise on the piano and sound really impressive – even if you’ve never played before.

Piano Genie is an intelligent controller from Google’s Magenta research project.

Powered by an AI (Artificial Intelligence) programme trained on classical piano music, Piano Genie lets you improvise music that spans all 88 piano keys while using only eight buttons.

“I really wanted to design a tool that we could give to someone who doesn’t know how to play, and they’d be able to create music with some kind of intention,” Google Magenta intern Chris Donahue told The Verge.

“When you’re playing it, it’s this really awesome experience where, occasionally, it will feel like it’s sort of reading your mind and play the exact note you’re intending to. And then other times, it will completely disobey you but still do something reasonable.”

Piano Genie
Piano Genie. Picture: Google Magenta / YouTube

Piano Genie was inspired by Guitar Hero, a game that also simplifies a musical instrument. The Piano Genie team was keen for users to make up their own melodies, rather than tapping along to pre-existing pieces of music.

To create Piano Genie, the team trained an AI program with music from around 1,400 performances from the International Piano-e-Competition – a competition founded with Yamaha, and based in Minnesota.

The result is a system which predicts the notes that should follow each other, letting its users improvise using one button at a time.

Try Piano Genie yourself through a web demo here.