• 03.11.16

Google Music Lab: Interactive Toys That Visualize The Science Of Sound

Some of Google’s best doodle designers explain the science and terminology of music with a dozen interactive toys.

Although music is a universal language, composing it is not. In other words, while almost everyone enjoys music, comparatively few people actually understand it. Google’s latest experiment wants to help change that. Check out the Chrome Music Lab, an online toy box that helps explain the science and terminology of music in a way that anyone can understand.


Created by a team of programmers and some of the visualizers responsible for Google’s interactive music doodles overseen by Alexander Chen, the Chrome Music Lab spans 12 separate web toys, each a colorful, cartoony play on a different musical concept. One toy teaches you about rhythm by letting you program the beats of some monkeys. Another gives you a color wheel to explore arpeggios. Still another simulates the way that music moves like water. There’s also a lesson on musical oscillation, thanks to a web app featuring a Patrick Starfish-like character, which lets you change frequency by dragging your mouse or finger across the screen. There’s even a toy to learn some piano chords, or see what the sound of a flute looks like in as a heat map in a spectrogram.

Hey, I learned something, and I’m admittedly a musical dummy: Who knew that the notes in a piano chord weren’t all next to each other? (Everyone, probably.) The Chrome Music Lab was created for Music in Our Schools Month, an annual March celebration aiming to promote high-quality music education since 1973. It works on both desktop, smartphones, and tablets. Check it out here.