Electric guitar pioneer Les Paul is one of the all-time greats in music instrument invention, so the guy clearly deserves an animated Google Doodle of his creation that you can play. Strum chords, pluck with the mouse, and even record phrases on Google’s homepage. (See video, above.) Since Google Doodles are archived – and since you can look at the code by choosing a View Source feature in your browser – these little novelties also have a life beyond their one day of glory. (Note, you may need to visit the US site if you’re in a part of the world that doesn’t have this Doodle, since they’re localized.)

Here’s where things get a little geekier:

Using the free and open source tool SuperCollider (Mac, Windows, Linux), composer and coder Nick Inhofe scripts Google’s interface, using the ability of SuperCollider to talk to keystrokes. You can download SuperCollider for free and try it out – it’s an insanely powerful real-time synth and processing engine – or just hit the Google shortcuts to hear the results. Full details:

Google Doodles with SC [SuperCollider mailing list]

Good, clean fun.

Check out Nick’s SoundCloud account, too, for some good listening:

  • Seriously, I lost probably a good 2 hours of sleep last night just playing with this thing. I think there's something here that can be said for extreme limitations, and removing all sort of preconcieved notions of musical notation. The string lengths don't even really corespond to the notes you make, so you're really left with a great sense of exploration. I've made more melodies and chord progressions I've been happy with on this thing than I have all year on my piano-style keyboards.

  • Nick Inhofe

    Thanks for the write up Peter!

    I should mention that the timing can get a little flaky. This is in no way the fault of Supercollider, which has rock solid timing.

    I guess there's only so much we can ask of a search engine logo these days. :0

  • greg

    I was just about to email you about this, Peter.

  • Sounds great, one question though, Supercollidor is Mac OS only right? I just had a quick look on the homepage and there's no mention of a Windows build there. I do remember there being some builds for Windows but nothing too stable. Would love to proved wrong on that point though if anyone knows more?
    Great blog btw!

  • jonas

    H ADKH J HG G 


  • Nick Inhofe

    There is a Windows version of Supercollider –

    I've used it before and for the most part it works really well. There are a few Ugens that sound funky though. Apparently this is due to them being compiled incorrectly : This might be fixed in the 3.4 release candidate though, but I'm not sure.

    As far as using the windows version for the keystroke scripting- I believe the wslib extension uses AppleScript, so I don't think it works on Windows. There might be an alternative somewhere though.

  • Great, thanks for that! Didnt see that version listed on the homepage. Ok, that'll keep me busy for the evening, cheers! 🙂

  • My friend Charles Matthews has also hacked into this thing, using Max/MSP, including a rather fun two-laptop version:



  • Phos….

    @Nick: After following a link to the US version from the J-walkblog (http://j-walkblog.com/index.php?/weblog/comments/Google_Guitar/#c), and playing around for awhile, a little later my Aussie friend posted a link to the Google.au version. We were wondering why there were differences in functionality between the two…Seems recording isn't enabled on the .au version. How many versions did you have to make?

  • Phos….

    @Nick, again: I'm also wondering about the mouseover activations of the strings that occur when rolling over the skinny blue bar at the top of the page (diagrammed here: http://www.pixentral.com/show.php?picture=1dUW0rU…. It's cool how rolling upwards over a region will place the sound in a different part of the stereo field than when you roll down from the top over the same region.

  • Nick Inhofe

    @phos : Just to be clear- I'm in no way responsible for the actual Guitar doodle. I just sequenced the use of it in Supercollider.

    I'm not sure why functionality changes for various countries. I was trying to show this stuff to some friends in EU and they couldn't use my links!

  • Phos….

    Oh! Thanks for the clarification, Nick. Might have sussed that if I'd read a little more carefully, but I skimmed quickly then fooled myself into thinking you were the creator…I was soooo hoping to get answers to those questions.

  • great detailing. can u plz suggest something so that we can write codes to resemble these features in our sites ?

  • Here are a few more Supercollider-based bits. The code has been posted on the SC list thread mentioned in the article.

    http://goo.gl/doodle/Umqyj http://goo.gl/doodle/WNGCf http://goo.gl/doodle/RRrMy

  • Here's me playing The Beatles' "Hey Jude" on two Google Doodle 'Les Paul' guitars: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pi_SCJ7COw0