Google and Les Paul

Google and Les Paul

Posted by Brad Wood
Jun 09, 2011 18:22:00 UTC
If you haven't seen it, Google's homepage has a very cool tribute to Les Paul. It's a live strum-able guitar. Below are some hints on how to use it for the less musical ones among us along with some recordings of mine.Here's the basic layout of the Guitar. You'll notice that dragging your mouse (don't click!) across the strings sounds notes. At first it seems kind of random, you can see in the diagram that the strings are loosely grouped into the three main chords: the I, IV, and V chord.
  • The three strings I labeled "I Chord" aren't actually a full triad, instead they are octave tonics and a 5th. (Don't tell your theory teacher you've been playing open 5ths!) If you pick up the bottom string, you're adding in the 3rd, though technically since it's an octave above the root, it's actually a 10th.
  • The two strings I labeled "IV Chord" are not a full triad as well. They are just the root note of the chord and the 3rd.
  • The four strings I labeled "V" does represent the full major chord. It is actually the second inversion of the V chord meaning that the 5th note is in the root.
So, let's put this all together and play a quick song. How about an easy one like "He's Got The Whole World In His Hands"? This song only uses the I and the V chord and looks like this:                     I
He's got the whole world, in his hands
He's got the whole world, in his hands
He's got the whole world, in his hands
                    V                              I
He's got the whole world, in his hands Very good, now take a bow! It should have sounded something like this: But wait, you ask-- how did you play the melody? Well, you can also use your keyboard as a piano of sorts! Your 4 main rows of keys will play all the notes in a major diatonic scale from the root note (or 1) to the first octave (or 8) and then the 2nd and 3rd note of the second octave. This means you can use any one of the following sets of keys:
  • 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
  • q w e r t y u i o p
  • a s d f g h j k l ;
  • z x c v b n m , . /
I have not found a way to play accidentals (chromatic half-steps) so that means you will be limited to a major key or the relative natural minor. (The 6th note is the root such that the I triad is 6, 8, and 10 and 6 and 8 are a minor third apart) The Google Les Paul guitar lets you play several notes at once via the keyboard, as well as play melody on the keyboard while strumming the guitar simultaneously with your mouse. Here is a quick recording I did of You Are My Sunshine: And here is a quick one of chopsticks: Have fun, it will only last for a day!



This is so amazing and fun! My work will be slow in getting done today, but my creativity is flourishing! Thanks so much for brightening my day!

Brad Wood

@Privett: My pleasure. Speaking of productivity-- just think of how much time Google developers spent writing this little doodle for just one day's use. I'm sure glad Google values creativity, even if it has no direct profit associated.


@Brad Wood, Actually, there is a fairly direct link between positive company outcome and the google doodles. They often generate publicity and they increase brand loyalty for their user base.

jeane millard

This is great but i think the one dancing animation in memory of the late Martha Graham is the best for me. The strings of these makes it look awesome though. :-)

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