The Sound of AI: Google’s Innovative Experiment in Abstract Musical Composition

Google’s new AI experiment, Instrument Playground, allows you to create music “inspired by” a variety of world instruments. The experiment begins by asking for a simple prompt containing a musical instrument’s name, optionally preceded by an adjective like “upbeat,” “strange,” or “gloomy.” It then produces a 20-second audio clip that can be used as a starting point for composing music. Simon Doury, an Artist in Residence at Google Arts & Culture Lab, designed the experiment, which utilizes Google’s MusicLM, a text-to-AI tool available to the public since May. Instrument Playground offers over 100 instruments from around the world, including lesser-known options like the veena from India, dizi from China, and mbria from Zimbabwe. You can also add adjectives to suggest styles like “moody,” “happy,” or “romantic.” However, the results are often abstract and may not directly reflect the specific instrument or adjective entered. The experiment also rejects certain adjectives for reasons that are not clearly explained. Once a clip is generated, you can use “Ambient,” “Beat,” and “Pitch” controls to modify the composition, and an advanced mode allows you to layer and loop up to four tracks. Finally, you can download a .wav file of your track. Google has provided a holiday-themed example to inspire users to get started. To begin composing, visit Instrument Playground and log in with your Google account.