Amazon Announces DeepComposer, a Musical Keyboard Backed by a Generative Adversarial Network

Backed by an AI running in the cloud, DeepComposer is designed to bring a new generation of developers to the field of GANs.

Amazon's Web Services division has made an abrupt entry into the musical instrument market, but it's not just making noise for the sake of it: The company has announced DeepComposer, a music keyboard powered by the company's artificial intelligence platform with the aim of bridging the worlds of AI and music.

Unveiled by Amazon Web Services' vice president of artificial intelligence Dr. Matt Wood during a midnight launch for the company's AWS re:Invent conference, DeepComposer is positioned by the company as being the world's first musical keyboard with machine learning capabilities — and it's hoping the device will bring a new generation of developers into the generative artificial intelligence (AI) fold.

"Machine learning (ML) requires quite a bit of math, computer science, code, and infrastructure. These topics are exceedingly important but to a lot of aspiring ML developers, they look overwhelming and sometimes, dare I say it, boring," admits Amazon's Julien Simon. "To help everyone learn about practical ML and have fun doing it, we introduced several ML-powered devices. At AWS re:Invent 2017, we introduced AWS DeepLens, the world’s first deep learning-enabled camera, to help developers learn about ML for computer vision. Last year, we launched AWS DeepRacer, a fully autonomous 1/18th scale race car driven by reinforcement learning. This year, we’re raising the bar (pardon the pun)."

DeepComposer, continuing the naming theme, takes the form of a 32-key two-octave musical keyboard, but with a focus on developers rather than musicians. The user records a short tune by playing the keyboard normally, then chooses a genre-based generative adversarial network (GAN) model to generate a new composition based on their own short sample. More advanced users can also train their own model, the company has confirmed.

The keyboard itself, however, has no AI smarts: Amazon has partnered with Intel on the project, building the machine learning half of the DeepComposer system on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) C5 instances powered by the company's Xeon Scalable processors. "Generative AI is one of the most fascinating advancements in AI technology," an Intel spokesperson claims of the joint project, "because of its ability to create something new: from turning sketches into images for accelerated product development to improving computer-aided design of complex objects."

The DeepComposer keyboard is not yet available, though can be pre-ordered at a $99 price including a 12-month free AWS tier for new users and a 30-day trial for existing AWS customers with all other cloud compute usage billed on an hourly rate, but interested parties can sign up for the preview and use a virtual version to get started ahead of release.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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