Researcher Develops Jazz Music-Playing Robots That Can Improvise With a Human Musician

Musician and researcher Mason Bretan plays jazz with a backup band of four robots in what at first glance appears to be a clever application of dancing robots and pre-recorded tracks, but is actually something much more remarkable. While two of the robots do indeed play prerecorded percussion, the other two are actually improvising along with Bretan’s playing. And all of them are swaying and dancing in response to the music. The largest robot, named Shimon, improvises on a marimba–a complex task that require the robot to pre-position its arms in anticipation of the next note. You can see Bretan and his robo-band in action in the six-minute improvisational piece, “What You Say.” Bretan developed the robots as part of his PhD research at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The piece is called “What You Say” and is inspired by the high energy funk piece, “What I Say”, from Miles Davis’ Live-Evil album. The incredible brilliance of the musicians on that album (as well as the numerous other great musicians around the world) are not only an inspiration to me and my own musical and instrumental aspirations, but also set the standard for the level of musicianship that I hope machines will one day achieve. And through the power of artificial intelligence, signal processing, and engineering I firmly believe it is possible for machines to be artistic, creative, and inspirational.

via New Scientist

E.D.W. Lynch
E.D.W. Lynch

Writer and humor generalist on the Internet and on Facebook.