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The Robotic Percussionist, Gil Winberg, Scott Driscoll
The Robotic Percussionist.
Let's imagine a typical situation: a jam session where talented musicians play all their creativity improvising, listening to each other and reacting to inputs. However let's think about the trio (AKA triumvirate) consisting of Ellington and Mingus with a variation at the drums: not Max Roach but Haile, the robotic percussionist. Defining it as a drum machine would be an understatement, because the prototype developed by Gil Winberg and Scott Driscoll at the Georgia Institute of Technology is an anthropomorphic robot that uses computational power and numerical algorithms to listen to live players, analyze their music in real-time, and play with them in an improvisational manner. According to Winberg, Haile can generate music that has never been played before, creating a new kind of human-machine interaction able to lead to an innovative sound. This peculiarity would be due to the acoustic and analogue dimension that digital music would start having, reproduced not through speakers but played live - using in this case a Native American Pow-wow drum. The analogue-digital combination emerges also from the wooden texture of the prototype, designed with the collaboration of the College of Architecture, whom the Music Dept. belongs to. The project is part of a research trend, that include experiments like GuitarBot and P.E.A.R.T., aimed to satisfy the intimate desire of many electronic musicians of having an anthropomorphic partner.
Valentina Culatti