A MIDI Robot Percussionist and a New Album, from the Duo Electrocado

Sydney-based duo Electrocado (Bill Day + Ryan Whare) have been busy making machines to make music – and banging things. In the video above, their inventive robotic percussionist, triggered via MIDI, plays tunes and rhythms. The CP1 (Creative Project 1) uses servos to control drum sticks (chopsticks, in fact) pivoting on rods, which can then strike metal, plastic, and drum skin surfaces. Playing a G# Minor scale on a xylophone along with drums, the robot responds here to MIDI patterns sent to it by Ableton Live. You can read loads of commentary on the process of making it in a …

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The Machine-Augmented Luthier: Robots Helping Make Guitars at Plek Technology

We focus primarily on new machines and technology that make music directly, but of course, these tools make instruments that make music, too. Having seen an image of a guitar string vibrating from German firm Plek A+D Gitarrentechnologie earlier this week, reader Brian Turley observes that the work that company is doing is impressive. We’re not necessarily talking mass-manufactured, machine-made guitars, either. The device in this case augments more traditional techniques, and can be put in the hands of an expert luthier. Plek’s technique scans guitar necks in multiple dimensions, creates a virtual fretboard in which you can adjust frets, …

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Rainlith: A Robotic, Responsive Rainstick, Powered by Kinect

In a responsive, real-time sculpture, the simple sonic qualities of a rainstick become electronically enhanced. Rainlith, a “kinetic sound art” work by Rui Gato, makes the rainstick itself robotic, its sounds transformed in space in a way that is itself sculptural. Responding to movement in the space using Microsoft’s Kinect, the apparatus is a geektastic brew of just about every tool you could imagine involved in this sort of construction. The artist shares full details, reproduced here in both English and Portugese – and Rui, thanks for sending this in:

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Rock Robots: PAM Can Seriously Shred, Open Source MARIE Could Do Even More

The first law of musical robotics: rock hard. We’ve seen plenty of robotic musical experiments, but finding a robot that can seriously shred is another matter altogether. Meet the robotic string instrument, Poly-tangent, Automatic (multi-) Monochord – let’s just call her PAM. Built by Expressive Machines Musical Instruments, a group of University of Virginia PhD students and composers, PAM is capable of creating raucous musical performances like the one above, by composer and EMMI member Steven Kemper. Musical robotics is cool, but it also hasn’t evolved much technologically in fifty years. It’s gotten cheaper and more accessible, but the fundamental …

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Shimon, Percussionist Robot, Gets Smarter; A Talk with its Creator

Shimon, an adaptive, improvisational, percussion-playing robot, is getting smarter – and more famous, with appearances in places like the Stephen Colbert show. Now, humans have been known to get a big head under such circumstances. Shimon’s head has gotten “more social” – gestural intelligence helps the robot relate to fellow players and nod its head in time to the music. I got a chance to talk more to project creator Dr. Gil Weinberg, director of the Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology. He’s also taken some of this technology and built it into mobile app ZOOZBeat which you can spot …

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Tupperware Music, Guitar Robots, Polyphonic Makerbot – Handmade Music LA Tonight

dromama from Altitude Sickness on Vimeo. Wherever you are in the world, here’s some geeky inspiration to kick off this summer weekend. And if you’re in the Los Angeles area, you should absolutely, positively be on Venice Boulevard tonight at 8pm at hacker venue CRASH Space for Handmade Music, gone LA. In the lineup: circuit bent toys, robotic guitars, MakerBots, monomes, and microcontroller synths, with Altitude Sickness, Ian Hattwick, The Sweaty Caps, Theron Trowbridge, and Vince Wong. It’s free at 8 pm, but if you can donate the recommended $10, you can help CRASH Space become a not-for-profit. Full details …

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K’nex Toy Robot Plays Piano; Instructable Shows You How

Robots may not yet surpass the piano-playing skills of master musicians, but they can at least blow a few piano students out of the water. And the latest musical robots aren’t priceless models out of big corporate R&D departments. They’re hacked together from off-the-shelf toys, use cheap parts, and are assembled with instructions you can grab free off the Internet. Now, what was that about the age of DIY being dead again? (Sorry, Radio Shack; maybe it just moved to Toys ‘R Us.) Behold a programmable robot made of K’nex interchangeable toys. Recently featured on the how-to site Instructables, this …

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Hybrid Man / Machine Orchestra: Interfaces, Interaction, and Keeping it Together

Image courtesy Machine Orchestra. Ed.: From modern electronica to South Asian Classical music, machines to humans, the Machine Orchestra is doing fascinating things with electrically-powered, digitally-manipulated, physically-robotic music. Here’s more about what makes the ensemble tick. It’s been nearly three months since I had the opportunity to guest blog here on CDM about a project I am involved in called the Machine Orchestra. In Pt. 1 you were introduced to the directors behind the ensemble, Dr. Ajay Kapur and Michael Darling. Today however, we look at the Machine Orchestra from the inside out, and explore a few of the interfaces, …

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Jazari: Utterly Brilliant Robotic Percussion

No comment on this one just yet; I’ll have to pick my jaw up off the floor. Amidst a sea of new robotic percussion, this Wii-remote-controlled, Max/MSP-based mini-ensemble of wooden African percussion is musical, expressive, and downright stunning. I love the mechanical (literally and musically) grooves, and with a single human controlling it live, it’s true to the one-man-band history of these sorts of instruments. “One human, three machines, rhythm,” says the video description. I hope to do some research and share more soon, but I can’t resist sharing the results now. Thanks to Patrick Flanagan for the tip on …

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The Man-Robot with an iMac Head, and Handmade Music Amsterdam

The Body, The Circuit, The Computer and The Voice: robot cowboy from STEIM Amsterdam on Vimeo. If you want to look for some of the roots of live electronic musical performance, STEIM is one place to start. Founded in 1969 by a group of Dutch composers (Misha Mengelberg, Louis Andriessen, Peter Schat, Dick Raaymakers, Jan van Vlijmen, Reinbert de Leeuw, and Konrad Boehmer), and led by the late “founding father” Michel Waisvisz, it has remained an important hub for inventing music technologies. It was one of the first places that gave an indication that these kind of experiments could extend …

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