Google’s New Cello Playing AI Bird – “Viola Bird”

"Viola Bird" (the AI Cello Bird) will Let You Find Out What it's Like to Play the Cello (Kinda...)

Ever wonder what it’s like to play the cello? You draw the bow across the string and then this beautiful sound comes out, right? Ummm, well, almost.

I’ve always been a fan of quirky things, and this creation had me laughing (and messing around with it) for hours.

If you are one of those folks who has always wanted to have the opportunity to play the cello, here is your big chance! And you’ll likely sound pretty darned great the very first time you try. Click on this to play the “Viola Bird” (not to be confused with the instrument called the viola. The bird is definitely playing the cello).

Now, What is the Viola Bird?

Once again, the Google Arts & Culture Lab has created another addicting game for people to experience the arts in a virtual setting sure to blow your mind. You might remember the “Blob Opera”. If you don’t know about it, I don’t recommend you click that link until you have some spare time on your hand.  Seriously. Heed my warning.

From the Google Blog:

“David Li collaborated with cellists and violinists Ashok Klouda, Dave Larkin, Elizabeth Goble, Peter Wilson, Zhivko Georgiev, and music arrangers Charles Mauleverer and Martin Batchelar to develop the experiment by training a neural network — a machine learning model that can be trained on data — to understand cello and violin compositions.

The neural network was then applied to create a real-time audio synthesis engine that can generate the sounds of a cello or violin based on the player’s input.

The result is an interactive music experiment that is both fun and educational. Viola the Bird is a great way for anyone to learn about string instruments and to explore their own creativity through music.”

What Music Can You Play with “Viola Bird”?

In the lower right hand corner of Viola Bird’s stage, you have the option to play another tune. As of this writing,  you can chose between 16 different tunes! And you’ll want to try them all. Included are:  “Ode to Joy”, “Pachelbel’s Canon”, “Shubert’s Ave Maria”, “The William Tell Overture” and quite a few others.

And when you are finished, you’ll get a thunderous applause from your virtual audience. That will be your rock-star moment. 

After you try the Google cello bird, you might decide you have a knack for this instrument. And if that’s the case, consider learning how to play the cello in the real world. Cello Discovery can help you with that. 🙂

Carolyn Hagler - Instructor

About the Author: Carolyn Hagler is the founder and director of – “The Home for Beginning Adult Cello Students”. She is a tenured member of the Austin Symphony Orchestra and earned a Master of Music degree in cello performance from the University of Texas at Austin. She also holds a K-12 teaching certificate in the state of Texas. Carolyn has focused her pedagogy on teaching adults the joy of learning the cello through a natural, relaxed body, achievable goals and fun, engaging interactive music scores. Carolyn spent decades honing her skills as an expert teacher of beginning students. Throughout her many years as a public school orchestra director, she was able to teach hundreds of students the skills necessary to win top honors in contests and festivals throughout the state of Texas As a cellist, Carolyn has performed on numerous recordings and soundtracks, toured internationally and explored many different styles of music. Though raised in Northern California, she currently lives in Austin, TX with her husband and their dog, Annie.
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