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Flutist and Saxophonist Robots Partner for a Classical Duet

These robots play Mendelssohn, and one has even learned to jam

1 min read

Since we last covered the Waseda Flutist Robot, which plays the flute with the skill of an intermediate-level human player, the bot has acquired some musical accompaniment.

This video shows the robot playing a classical duet (“Trois Duos de Mendelssohn et Lachner”) with a robotic saxophonist partner, itself noticeably less humanoid than the flutist. Researchers Atsuo Takanishi, Jorge Solis, and colleagues, at Waseda University in Japan, are attempting to recreate the interaction of musical partners such that one can respond to the visual and aural cues of its companion.

Eventually, the researchers want to have a single robot that will be able to play multiple instruments. But for now, the different ways of producing sound in each instrument require different bot components.

They also want robots to be able to interact with humans, and to do so jazz-band style, with improvisation.

In this video, the flutist robot is actually responding to a human saxophonist, using both visual and audio cues from its partner to pick up information and play its part. The goal in this case is for the robot to copy the sax player’s rhythm and melody, in a “question and answer” format. Notice that in the second trial, the robot misses its cue. In the third, it’s back on track.

Videos: Takanishi Laboratory at Waseda University

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