Skip to Content
Artificial intelligence

Create your own moody quarantine music with Google’s AI

Lo-Fi Player, the latest project out of Google Magenta, lets you mix tunes with the help of machine learning by interacting with a virtual room.
September 4, 2020
A screenshot of Lo-Fi Player, a new project from the Google Magenta team.
A screenshot of Lo-Fi Player, a new project from the Google Magenta team.
Google Magenta

The Google Magenta team, which makes machine-learning tools for the creative process, has made models that help you compose melodies, and tools that help you sketch cats. Mostly because it’s fun, but also to explore how AI can make creation more accessible. Its latest project now gives anyone a chance to make quarantine tunes to vibe to—no music training necessary. 

Lo-Fi Player, designed by Vibert Thio, a technologist and artist who interned with the team this summer, lets users interact with objects in a virtual room to mix their own lo-fi hip-hop soundtracks. The goal is to make the music-mixing experience as simple and friendly as possible. The room is a two-dimensional, pixelated drawing displayed in a web browser. Clicking on different objects, like the clock and the piano, prompts the user to adjust different tracks, like the drum line and melody.

customize with ease gif

There are two machine-learning models at work in the background. One, tucked away in the radio, generates new melodies when clicked on; the other, hidden in the TV, interpolates between two melodies to create something that sounds a little bit like both.

Most of the sounds in the room, however, are not generated by machine learning—and that’s kind of the point. Throughout the process, Thio worked with lo-fi producers to curate bass lines, drum lines, and background ambience that exemplify the genre and sound good. He also wrote four melody options that users can choose from. The machine learning adds just enough of a wild card on top of the scripted tracks to give each user a unique mix. 

youtube streaming gif

The initial launch of Lo-Fi Player also includes an interactive YouTube livestream, where users can type commands into the chat window to change the music. The idea is to make music creation a more collective experience, with quarantine in mind. “What a tiny, small thing to bring us together during covid,” says Doug Eck, a research scientist who supervised the project. 

Right now the project is in its first version, but Thio already sees more possibilities. His dream project is to make a kind of TikTok for music creation—an interface that makes it really easy for non-musicians to play with music editing, share their creations, and express themselves.

Deep Dive

Artificial intelligence

conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned
conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned

A horrifying new AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click

Deepfake researchers have long feared the day this would arrive.

computation concept
computation concept

How AI is reinventing what computers are

Three key ways artificial intelligence is changing what it means to compute.

digital twins concept
digital twins concept

How AI digital twins help weather the world’s supply chain nightmare

Just-in-time shipping is dead. Long live supply chains stress-tested with AI digital twins.

still from Embodied Intelligence video
still from Embodied Intelligence video

These weird virtual creatures evolve their bodies to solve problems

They show how intelligence and body plans are closely linked—and could unlock AI for robots.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.