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Google’s Song Maker turns even the most talentless into musicians

Long ago, I once had a dream of becoming a rock star. So I picked up a clarinet – every rock star’s instrument of choice – and whistled out the most horrific noise I’d ever heard. My musical career swiftly ended there.

But worry not, fourteen years later and Google has given me a second chance at stardom, releasing a new web app called Song Maker. It’s an experiment produced by Google’s Chrome Music Lab initiative, a project that “makes learning music more accessible through fun, hands-on experiments”. Similar in concept to the music creation games of the late 90s and early 2000s, Song Maker lets you create short melodies on your mobile browser or desktop computer.

While it’s been branded as a Chrome web app, I tried it on Safari and it works flawlessly. When you open it up, you’ll be greeted with a grid that is separated into two: melody and rhythm. You plonk down beats into the grid by “painting” colours into the squares, achieved by tapping or clicking the squares in the grid.

Song Maker lets you set up to two different instruments for your composition. The instruments included in the first set contain synth, piano, marimba, strings and woodwind. The second set includes conga, electronic blocks and a drum kit.

I tried painting in specific instruments, but unfortunately, it seems like you’re only able to hear the two that have been selected. The web app also allows you to sing in a specific note and have that translate into an instrumental note, painted onto your score. The interface will show you what note you’re hitting, and it will always be in key – thankfully.

If you want more advanced fine-tuning, you can go into Settings and adjust the beats per bar, the scale and even the starting note. It’s not exactly complex, but it’s not really supposed to be, mainly because it’s been made with schools in mind. Once you’re done with your sick beat, you can share it far and wide, and have people build on top of it to make it sound better (or worse) by sending over a link.

In less than a minute, I was able to make a mix between Hallelujah Junction from Call Me by Your Name, and the sounds of a child slamming down their fists on the keys of a piano. Decide for yourself, build on mine and tweet your own creations to us at @Alphr.

Chrome Music Lab was launched in 2016 as a series of web-based applications helping people learn about and create music.

So far, they’ve made Soundwaves, a web app that gives you a visual representation of how sound vibrations travel, and Oscillators, which lets you squash and expand a character to help you learn about frequency.

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