David Li's Blob Opera for Google lets you create your own festive singing chorus
"Play four voices with the help of machine learning", reads the enticing description of Blob Opera, one of Google's latest experiments created in collaboration with the artist David Li.
The interactive site features four colourful blobs that you can drag up and down to achieve different vowel sounds rather than any words. You begin with 'bass', move on to 'tenor', 'mezzo-soprano' and finally, 'soprano'. You simply hold the mouse button to maintain the glorious chorus, moving around and playing with the characters as much as you like. You can also record your masterpiece.
There's even the option to listen to some festive songs pre-made (classics like Jingle Bells and O'Holy Night), and with the choice of adding little Santa hats to the four adorable blobs. Then you can share your favourites with friends via social media or email. It's just the sort of light-hearted fun we need this week, as we approach the festive break.
"This experiment pays tribute to and explores the original musical instrument: the voice. We developed a machine learning model trained on the voices of four opera singers in order to create an engaging experiment for everyone, regardless of musical skills," says Freya Murray from Google Arts & Culture.
Although Blob Opera is based on machine learning and what it thinks opera sounds like, there are real people who inspired the beautiful voices: Frederick Tong is the bass, Christian Joel is the tenor, Joanna Gamble is the mezzo‑soprano, and Olivia Doutney is the soprano. Ingunn Gyda Hrafnkelsdottir and John Holland-Avery also contributed their talent to the project.
Google's creative holiday fun doesn't end there, as it has also created holiday-themed virtual colouring books. Find them the next time you search on Google for winter holidays like 'Hanukkah', 'Christmas' and 'Kwanzaa'.
Or check out The Never-Ending Holiday, computer-generated, surrealist-inspired short videos that use Google Maps and Street View data to offer virtual explorations of France, Italy and Spain. Nice to know we can still safely enjoy some kind of travel when so many restrictions remain in place.