Thursday, March 17, 2016

Creative Inspiration: Chrome Music Lab

Chrome Music Lab is a nifty collection of interactive "experiments" that lets users explore the fundamental elements of music like rhythm, chords, and harmonics.

Google has assembled these collaborations between musicians and coders into one place for anyone with a Web browser to try out.   And best of all,  the Music Lab examples were built with the freely available Web Audio API, so anyone with the time, and some technical know-how, can put together similar interactive explorations into sound and music.

Even as a non-musician, I really enjoyed playing and experimenting with all the Music Lab modules, but two of my favorites were "Voice Spinner" (pictured at the top of this post) and "Rhythm" (pictured below.)

In Voice Spinner, you use your computer's microphone to capture your voice and create "sonic circles"  that can then be played backwards or forwards at different speeds.  Not only is it super fun, but the Voice Spinner interface really lends itself to repeated experimentation.  (I had fun trying to recreate the backward-tracking sections of old Beatles songs!)

The "Rhythm" module lets you choose among sets of different cartoony animal musical combos. Each set of animals plays different percussion instruments that you can then control by clicking or un-clicking dots (like musical notes) onto a set of parallel lines.  Once you set everything into motion the animals play different rhythms in time to the dots you placed.   It's a deceptively simple interface that let's you set up really complex rhythmic patterns!  It's also really fun to use to collaborate with someone else.

So bravo to Google for turning Chrome Music Lab loose into the world!  It's worth clicking over to the website to play with all 12 current modules --- each one of which can easily serve as creative inspiration for museum/exhibit/design folks!

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