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Clarinet Wins Robotic Orchestra Competition

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the long-ways-from-virtuoso-still dept.

Robotics 94

Sasha writes "The Australian designed robotic clarinet beat out Dutch and Finnish entries this year at the robotic orchestra competition. The researchers don't expect to replace human musicians, but are instead interested in what makes the difference between playing music well and playing music poorly. There is also a video available of the performance."

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Has to be said (5, Funny)

dave_the_dodo (974542) | more than 6 years ago | (#23879365)

I, for one, welcome our new clarinet playing overlords.

Re:Has to be said (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23879379)

Has to be said
Actually no.

No it doesn't.

Re:Has to be said (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23882247)

How can you find fault with a machine that plays Clarinet Hero and wins every time? Even on difficult pieces like the 1812 Overture? Emulating cannon explosions with a clarinet is VERY difficult, and several human performers who tried it ended up with a groin concussion and protruding eyeballs [Annals of Bad Medicine, Vol XXIV]. But this machine did it flawlessly. Alas, sadly it melted down after trying covers of Michael Jackson's Thriller. The hip thrusts and moonwalking were too much for the earnest robot.

Re:Has to be said (4, Insightful)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 6 years ago | (#23879515)

I, for one, will continue to enjoy the imperfections introduced by humans when playing instruments. I find artificially generated music (I'm looking at you techno) to sound rather bland and boring. But then again different strokes fo different folks!

Re:Has to be said (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23879615)

Aah, but what you failed to mention is that those are not imperfections at all but rather emphasis and meaning. Why should sustained notes not change pitch, what's wrong with a little unexpected (but not unwelcome) syncopation? Nothing. That's humanity creating music.
 
On the other hand, having the ability to have an infinite sustained note or a perfect beat or pitch is invaluable in creating music, like techno, even if you intend on changing the beat and whatnot.

Re:Has to be said (5, Interesting)

againjj (1132651) | more than 6 years ago | (#23879641)

Which actually is (part of) the point of John Cage's 4'33" [wikipedia.org] . Basically, music is more that what is written on the sheet, it is also everything else's impact on the performance of what is written.

Re:Has to be said (1)

againjj (1132651) | more than 6 years ago | (#23880353)

Troll? I was pointing out that the GP is correct in noting that non-score effects add something to music performance, and that the contributions of non-score effects have actually been recognized by Cage, a rather influential musician, in his most famous work. I do not understand how that is a "Troll" while the original statement is now modded "Insightful".

Re:Has to be said (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23881653)

Except that 4'33" isn't music. It's silence, which by definition, is not musical. Was he trying to make a point, or make a name and money for himself?

Re:Has to be said (1)

yo303 (558777) | more than 6 years ago | (#23882319)

Except that 4'33" isn't silence. It's just the nuances outside of the notes.

It is a live performance of a score that contains no notes.

Take a live performance of an orchestra, with all the quiet breathing noises, shoe shuffling and so forth, and then remove all the notes of the performance.

Re:Has to be said (1)

CyberZen (97536) | more than 6 years ago | (#23882447)

Cage was both quite famous and well-to-do long before 4'33". He was, during his time, one of the foremost composers of the American avant-garde.

Re:Has to be said (1)

Metasquares (555685) | more than 6 years ago | (#23884281)

He would have to be, for if someone who wasn't already famous tried to do that, they would be ridiculed rather than taken seriously.

Re:Has to be said (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23879749)

Do you dislike electric guitar?

Where does the line between twiddling the knobs on an amplifier and twiddling the knobs on a synthesizer get drawn?

Re:Has to be said (3, Insightful)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 6 years ago | (#23879929)

I think he was referring to drum machine type music. Stuff like FL Studio where you're tracking the song out and the entire thing is all perfectly timed using identical sounds. In other words - it's created by a person but essentially being played with machine-like precision.

Re:Has to be said (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23880015)

Yeah, I got that, my point was more that the line between technology and musician is blurred all over the place. After all, anyone doing something more than singing is enhancing their body somehow or another, why judge doing it digitally differently than doing it with a hollow tube?

Re:Has to be said (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 6 years ago | (#23886065)

>Stuff like FL Studio

I use FLStudio to do classical piano and flute.
Don't blame the tools please.

Re:Has to be said (3, Insightful)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 6 years ago | (#23880263)

"Played by a robot" doesn't mean "robotic" in the sense of "the same every time". It would be perfectly possible to add e.g. normally distributed variation in hold time of a note. There could well be a psychology research grant waiting to be filed to investigate whether it's possible to generate imperfect music in such a way that even "experts" (broadsheet critics, for example) can't distinguish between the computer and a human playing the same piece.

Re:Has to be said (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23880359)

We actually add this variation... We call it a sloppyness factor and makes it sound.... more natural :)

Frank, TeamDARE

Re:Has to be said (1)

CheeseTroll (696413) | more than 6 years ago | (#23881571)

We have this already - it's called a CD player. ;-)

Re:Has to be said (1)

Locomorto (925016) | more than 6 years ago | (#23882555)

I know! I had to buy a really expensive CD player to get rid of all that jitter. I guess those hundred dollar players are not so bad when your listening to techno. However I once tried to listen to Strauss of one and at first I thought I had forgotten to put green marker around the edge of the CD. Fortunately I realised that I just needed to buy a Cambridge Azur 840C (only $2300! What a bargain) and a Benchmark DAC1 (Only $1690! I almost fell out of my chair). Of course, I then realised I only had enough money to buy some Koss KSC-75 (trash at a trashy price, $49.00). But not one ounce of jitter, and the sound was so pure and smooth! I know that as soon as I can buy something nicer in that department I will be in audio heaven, I've heard you can even ascend!

        -Meanas

Re:Has to be said (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#23880375)

I, for one, will continue to enjoy the imperfections introduced by humans when playing instruments.
No reason those can't be simulated as well.

Re:Has to be said (1)

radarsat1 (786772) | more than 6 years ago | (#23880689)

Different strokes [mcgill.ca] , indeed.

Re:Has to be said (1)

Petrushka (815171) | more than 6 years ago | (#23881363)

the imperfections introduced by humans

After listening to the playing in the video, I really think you've got that the wrong way round ...

Re:Has to be said (1)

JMcEttrick (33410) | more than 6 years ago | (#23881505)

The imperfections are not what makes music played by a human being better - it's the capacity for expression, which machines are not capable of. A computer can't express it's musical will to an audience, not having a will in the first place, just a certain type of technical ability.

Re:Has to be said (1)

inamorty (1227366) | more than 6 years ago | (#23885603)

I dare you not to find this [youtube.com] interesting. Certainly not a 'whistle to on the bus' type of tune but mesmerising none the less. Then again I should probably get off your lawn.

Robot playing overtures (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#23879907)

I, for one, welcome our robot-played overture [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Has to be said (1)

tubapro12 (896596) | more than 6 years ago | (#23881245)

Reminds me of the robot that played flute, WF-4R [youtube.com] , except WF-4R is anthropomorphic.

Re:Has to be said (1)

Atario (673917) | more than 6 years ago | (#23883375)

Meh. Call me when they've perfected the robotic skin flute player.

nothing. (0, Troll)

nawcom (941663) | more than 6 years ago | (#23879377)

clarinet? HAH! We all know the real true winner here: my rusty trombone.

I'm waiting for the Robotic Trombone.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23879385)

Now that would be something.... though the robotic clarinet is impressive.

Wasn't this already covered on TNG? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23879391)

Data did it.

When suddenly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23879407)

...The robots then started playing "It's the end of the world as we know it," and destroyed the city.

Robot Plays Clarinet While BushCo War Criminals (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23879453)

loot the U.S. Federal Budget [youtube.com]

Newt Gingrich for President: Let the Republicans finish their contract ON America.

Have a Bush_Cheney_Conyers_Leahey_McCain_Obama_Pelosi_Rice_Rove_Schumer-free weekend.

Cordially,
Kilgore Trout

What an interesting article. (1)

WelcomeOurOverlords (1309475) | more than 6 years ago | (#23879499)

I, for one, welcome our new musical robot overlords.

But does it run Linux? (5, Informative)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 6 years ago | (#23879501)

Actually, the answer is yes [cio.com.au] .

Re:But does it run Linux? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23880391)

Now imagine a Beowulf clusters of those.

But for your own safety, do it with some ear protection.

Obligatory Doomoo... (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 6 years ago | (#23879505)

Doomoo ari-datou.. Missu-ta Roh-baa-tou..

Look on the bright side... (3, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | more than 6 years ago | (#23879507)

Look on the bright side. They could have made a robotic bagpipe player.

Re:Look on the bright side... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23879605)

They wanted to study the differences between good music playing and bad music playing, not bad music playing and really bad music playing.

Re:Look on the bright side... (1)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | more than 6 years ago | (#23881111)

As a bagpipe player, I resemble that joke!
Seriously, amateur bagpipe players (like me) should not try to play in public. They give the good ones a bad reputation. Well-played bagpipes are beautiful, badly played bagpipes should be banned by the Geneva conventions. Soundproofed music practice rooms exist for a reason.

Re:Look on the bright side... (4, Funny)

Gewalt (1200451) | more than 6 years ago | (#23880095)

Do you have any idea how hard it is to get a computer drunk enough to pick up a bagpipe and start playing it?

Re:Look on the bright side... (2, Funny)

Thiez (1281866) | more than 6 years ago | (#23880239)

Not hard at all. Even after a single beer my computer starts acting funny.

Re:Look on the bright side... (2, Funny)

Sun Chi (680938) | more than 6 years ago | (#23880167)

Maybe that is the next project: teach a robot how to play bagpipes and see if it can learn why it shouldn't.

Re:Look on the bright side... (3, Informative)

radarsat1 (786772) | more than 6 years ago | (#23880705)

Are you referring to McBlare [ece.ubc.ca] ?

Re:Look on the bright side... (3, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | more than 6 years ago | (#23880959)

Are you referring to McBlare?

Upon seeing the bag inflated prior to a demonstration, one of the professors at Carnegie Mellon was heard to exclaim: "You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!" before he ran screaming out of the room.

I've seen this before... (1)

veganboyjosh (896761) | more than 6 years ago | (#23879537)

Captured by robots has a whole band of robots [capturedbyrobots.com] that play their own instruments.

But can it play... (1)

SeanTobin (138474) | more than 6 years ago | (#23879551)

Can it play 92 cents below the lowest octave of E-Flat?

Innovation without purpose... (0)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 6 years ago | (#23879601)

...while quite common in our community, is one of our greatest weaknesses. Take note, fellow geeks, of this example.

Here we have a masterfully-complex machine. It is the end result of (presumably) hundreds of hours of effort from multiple talented individuals.

Pause for a moment and shift your outlook on things to include this concept: Robotics is NOT cool.

Now pause to ask: What do I think of this project and WHY was it undertaken?

The obvious answers come readily to mind, but again I feel we have to weigh the importance of the output against the cost of the task.

"Because it charges our egos" doesn't (and won't continue to) hold water for very long.

Here, at the end of the day, we have a clarinet that really isn't being played very well.

Think about this perspective as you apply your own skills to your projects. "Does the result justify the effort required" and "do these two things fit naturally together" are excellent questions to keep in mind.

GUI developers, please go back up and re-read this post. ;)

Re:Innovation without purpose... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23879679)

Life isn't all factories and equations y'know.

Re:Innovation without purpose... (2, Funny)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23879803)

Commenting without saying anything is a much bigger weakness in this community. Well followed.

Re:Innovation without purpose... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23879837)

Are you kidding me? It is what humans do best, and I would say it is what separates humans from basically every other animal in the world we know of. We have the ability to spend resources on problems that aren't really useful to us yet, but one day they might be. All to play have fun and do something that wasn't possible before. Because of our natural playful attitudes towards life, we have been able to do very useful things. Using your criterion, some of man's greatest achievements are not worthwhile. Going to the moon was nothing more than an ego trip, but the knowledge gathered from it may one day save our species. Who knows. I do know that playing with things is how we learn, and learning in itself is worthwhile.

Re:Innovation without purpose... (4, Informative)

Translation Error (1176675) | more than 6 years ago | (#23879841)

Now pause to ask: What do I think of this project and WHY was it undertaken?
Well, I suppose if you REALLY wanted the answer to that second question, you could--oh, I don't know--actually read the article, whose writer goes to the effort of explainining the reasons for both the entire competition and the clarinet project in three (tiny) paragraphs.

Relevant bit FTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23882651)

For both NICTA and the Music Acoustics lab, the robot is now a platform for research on a number of issues relating to musical performance and the player-instrument interaction. And no, we're not aiming to put humans out of a job. For us, the robot is a complementary part of our research into clarinets and how to play music badly or well, and what makes the difference. See An introduction to clarinet acoustics.

Re:Innovation without purpose... (4, Informative)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#23879999)

I feel we have to weigh the importance of the output against the cost of the task.
How about time spent without "purpose" in general? What about all the time people spend being entertained or doing one of a million different hobbies and amateur sports? Or posting on slashdot for that matter? It's almost by definition that the output is not important, only the process. Some people like doing silly and innovative things, why should we just hold them to that standard? Call it what you want, but I still more useful than how most people spend their time. Your opinion might differ but I honestly don't care because the reasons I like my useless habits and hobbies aren't the same as yours since that's all about utility, not output.

Re:Innovation without purpose... (5, Insightful)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 6 years ago | (#23880019)

Same could be said of music, art, etc... doesn't make it any less interesting or important to people. Curiosity, tinkering, and "because I can" have lead to all sorts of amazing things. Just because you don't understand the motivation doesn't mean it's not worthwhile to someone in some way.

Re:Innovation without purpose... (2, Insightful)

metamechanical (545566) | more than 6 years ago | (#23880497)

I would take your comment even further, and say that in general "fate" tends to laugh at plans, and (anecdotally, of course) most efforts undertaken to advance along a set path and accomplish a specific goal are fraught with failures and setbacks. On the other hand, efforts undertaken for the pleasure of doing them frequently not only yield our best culture, but our most innovative advancements (and at worst, they were generally at least amusing).

That's not to say we shouldn't set goals, we should just expect that our true successes in life will come from what others might view as frivolous.

Re:Innovation without purpose... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23885233)

As an average slashdot reader, I'm most interested in the robotic lips wrapped around that reed. :-*

Re:Innovation without purpose... (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 6 years ago | (#23899119)

Just imagine if all this effort had been spent on one of the millions and millions of things that a human cannot already do better. We could have had ALL the same "because I can" and STILL YET yielded some usefulness in the end.

Everyone seems to simply go "cool! robots! OMGoneoneone" and misses the opportunity cost entirely.

What a load of crap (1)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#23880165)

Just because you don't see the value or purpose of a line of research does not mean it doesn't have value. At the end of the day, what we have is more in depth knowledge about what makes music good and bad, how to coordinate fine motion in robots, and numerous other advances.

Just so you know, you come across as a supercilious ass in this post. All you've shown is your ignorance regarding science and research, and your desire to tell other people how to spend their time. If that's not the image you wish to project to others, I suggest you work on your social skills.

Re:Innovation without purpose... (1)

FinchWorld (845331) | more than 6 years ago | (#23880231)

Really? Why? Did not Leonardo da Vinci conceive complex things such as the tank, helicopter and if memory serves the calculator. These things had no practical use for him, or anyone else for about 400 years. Would you say it was all a waste of time?

And robotics is cool, fine, maybe not everyone thinks so, I do. Its partly while im building one. WHY was it undertaken? No good reason in the grand scheme of things, but it amuses me and furthers my understanding of the subject, and things i learn here might have, shock horror, real world uses. In fact, i think you'd struggle to explain how it doesn't.

If we didn't bother to try new things without an immediate and definite gain for society we'd likely still be sat around in caves wearing animal skins.

Re:Innovation without purpose... (1)

IsaacMalitz (1070482) | more than 6 years ago | (#23880665)

BobMcD, I concur that basically the clarinet really isn't being played very well. Fundamentally, music can be modeled/thought-of as a highly-coordinated set of stimuli that act on a listener in a very wide variety of ways (see www.omsmodel.com for some specifics - over 100 high-level kinds of stimulation). When music is performed/realized just as a sequence of notes (e.g. this clarinet performance), the overall stimulation is rather low and boring.

Re:Innovation without purpose... (1)

supertsaar (540181) | more than 6 years ago | (#23883637)

My Palm pilot has the same piece of music as a sound for the alarm clock,
(the flight of the bumblebee) [wikipedia.org] and plays it just as crappily.
But at this stage I think that was not really important yet, they'll get to the 'once more, with feeling' stage later.
I've blown on saxophones and clarinets just to try and make some noise. To have a machine getting this far is actually quite an accomplishment I think.
Now they just need to work on timing & emphasis....

Re:Innovation without purpose... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23880811)

Innovation without purpose is a fantastic definition for art.

Re:Innovation without purpose... (2, Insightful)

radarsat1 (786772) | more than 6 years ago | (#23880815)

You are making a false assumption that the only thing that comes out of the project is a robot that plays the clarinet. There are several other outputs:

First, some students learned how to build a robotic system. This has applications far beyond artistic works. Often sound and art is a very good excuse to spend time learning things that can be used for "real" applications later. For instance, would you prefer students build a clarinet playing robot or a robot that throws beer [youtube.com] ? There are plenty of examples of "useless" projects undertaken by undergrads -- but they then move on to produce useful results later in life.

Secondly, there is the psychological / human-centric part of the work: building robotics to mimic human gesture and human expression teaches us a lot about how we work.

This is called "basic" research: it doesn't necessarily consist of making something that DOES something, but it allows us to learn more about ourselves. Learning what techniques are needed for expressive clarinet playing implies that we know what those techniques are-- it implies we know what "expression" is, and that we understand much of the physics behind airflow and reed action.

This is interesting stuff. You say it is a clarinet that is "not being played very well." Well, WHY is it not being played very well? What can be improved in the playing technique? Why can humans do it better? Is it the lack of "expression" in playing (cognitive), or is something wrong with the airflow-reed interaction (physics). Or both?

This is physics and engineering and psychology all rolled into one amusing project. How can you say it's useless?

The purpose is mastery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23883175)

Here we have a masterfully-complex machine. It is the end result of (presumably) hundreds of hours of effort from multiple talented individuals.

You had me at "masterfully-complex machine." It's brilliant.

We need more of this.

"Because it charges our egos" doesn't (and won't continue to) hold water for very long.

Actually, as long as the human animal has an ego, this will hold plenty of water. I predict human animals will have egos for a very long time. Thankfully.

After-perfomance quote (5, Funny)

Dhar (19056) | more than 6 years ago | (#23879603)

After the performance, the clarinet was overheard saying, "All your brass are belong to us."

-g.

Re:After-perfomance quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23879801)

So much easier to use the homophone...

"All your bass are belong to us."

Especially since "bass" is also a homograph, meaning either the instrument (short for bass viola) or the clef.

For that matter, one could easily extend the punchline.

"Someone set us up the band"

"You have no chance to survive! Mark your time!"

Sigh... I guess it's too much to ask for a complete effort on a Friday.

This remedial humor lesson brought to you by the notes C and A#.

Re:After-perfomance quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23879935)

This remedial humor lesson brought to you by the notes C and A#.

Crap! I was hoping it'd be Bb and B#. Oh well, maybe next time.

Re:After-perfomance quote (1)

Gewalt (1200451) | more than 6 years ago | (#23880103)

Be thankful it wasn't C# and VB

Re:After-perfomance quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23880555)

Let's explain the joke for the less musically inclined: Bb and B# are the same notes as A# and C (respectively). Now give him some +1 funny. ;)

Re:After-perfomance quote (2, Funny)

julesh (229690) | more than 6 years ago | (#23883145)

Narrator: In A.D. 2101, song was beginning.
        Captain: What happen ?
        Mechanic: Somebody set up us the drumloop.
        Operator: We get signal.
        Captain: What !
        Operator: Main amp turn on.
        Captain: It's you !!
        CATS: How are you gentlemen !!
        CATS: All your bass are belong to us.
        CATS: You are on the way to first verse.
        Captain: What you say !!
        CATS: You have no chance to harmonize mark your time.
        CATS: Ha Ha Ha Ha ....
        Operator: Captain !!
        Captain: Turn on every 'Moog'!!
        Captain: You know what you playing.
        Captain: Play 'Moog'.
        Captain: For great chorus.

Re:After-perfomance quote (1)

silentcoder (1241496) | more than 6 years ago | (#23880699)

Heh, your post reminded me of this [silentcoder.co.za] and this [silentcoder.co.za] .

Disclaimer: yes I am the person responsible for that crime against humanity but those strips were done a long time ago - they just fitted the occasion frighteningly well..

testing, please ignore or mod down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23879693)

just making sure anonymous posting works correctly.

Electronic orchestras (2, Interesting)

Alioth (221270) | more than 6 years ago | (#23879747)

Well, I prefer this one :-)

http://vimeo.com/1109226 [vimeo.com]

Contest website and longer article (4, Informative)

againjj (1132651) | more than 6 years ago | (#23879763)

Here is the contest website [artemisia-...iation.org] and a longer article [computerworld.com.au] .

Great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23879887)

A robot playing the clarinet? That's the gayest robot ever.

Things that make you go... huh? (1)

VoxMagis (1036530) | more than 6 years ago | (#23879913)

I played clarinet for a dozen years - it's not very fair in some ways, simply because the clarinet is one of the most basic instruments in an orchestra, where a musician has the least influence on the actual sound/tonal quality beyond a certain level. Even some percussion instruments give you more ability to influence the sound of a note.

Re:Things that make you go... huh? (1)

magarity (164372) | more than 6 years ago | (#23880501)

Join a banjo orchestra with your clarinet and you'll be a god of instrumental flexibility.

Re:Things that make you go... huh? (1)

VoxMagis (1036530) | more than 6 years ago | (#23881055)

Really? Now THAT I find interesting.

Thanks, I appreciate learning that.

Re:Things that make you go... huh? (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 6 years ago | (#23883203)

Join a banjo orchestra with your clarinet and you'll be a god of instrumental flexibility.

This surprises me somewhat. I'll admit never playing a banjo, but I've played quite a few other stringed instruments, and almost all of them give you three different degrees of freedom you can freely adjust as a player: velocity at which you strike the string (affecting amplitude and intonation), position along the string you strike it at (which affects intonation) and precise pitch (in the case of a fretted instrument like a banjo selected by slightly bending the string along the fretboard). Also, the choice of whether to use a plectrum or your finger to pick a string usually affects the sound considerably. Whereas a clarinet only really allows you to vary the amplitude of the tone, although admittedly you can do this continuously throughout the tone.

Sure a banjo isn't as flexible an instrument as a violin, but few are.

The Dutch entry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23880245)

Second prize winners, a guitar playing robot, can be found at http://teamdare.mine.nu/

It has to be said (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23880417)

This blows.

No more robotic pianos (2, Interesting)

heroine (1220) | more than 6 years ago | (#23880931)

Robotic pianos have been around for over 100 years & they've never sounded as good as a human. After all this time they finally moved on to other instruments.

Re:No more robotic pianos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23881957)

No joke, I wouldn't think it possible that someone could take an organic fluid instrument like a clarinet and make it sound so digital. Sounded awful, and this is what won?!

Re:No more robotic pianos (1)

Qhartb (1311541) | more than 6 years ago | (#23882229)

I disagree. I would be just as happy listening to a recording of a Bosendorfer computer grand piano playing playing itself as I would one of a pianist playing it. I don't think I could tell the difference, even though I have a good ear and play piano myself.

Re:No more robotic pianos (1)

iwein (561027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23882345)

...; they've never sounded as good as a human. After all this time they finally moved on to other instruments.
And again not sounding as good as human, but they sure are fast. Fastest. Flight of the Bumblebee. Ever.
(please reply with links to faster performances, I have some time to kill)

Re:No more robotic pianos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23882923)

Robotic pianos do sound indistinguishable from a human. A fifties' Glenn Gould Bach recording was recently analyzed, its note velocities and other parameters extracted, and the performance was re-recorded with a computer-controlled grand piano. The recording is identical to Gould's performance, only with modern sound quality, and is available on CD. Look it up.

yuo Fai7 It?! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23881091)

is mired in an BSD's codebase backward and said OS. Now BSDI is Fucking market

From a member of the robot team (4, Informative)

MusicAcoustics (1311525) | more than 6 years ago | (#23881469)

A colleague told me of this discussion and suggested that I give a brief explanation of the motivation for this project. I'm from the Music Acoustics Group at UNSW. We maintain a large web site http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/music/ [unsw.edu.au] for the benefit of musicians, students and interested others. It has more details on the robot. The introduction on our site is aimed at a good high school student, but if you go deep enough it leads to our technical research papers. - Most of the time, we study real musical instruments, real musicians, the voice and the ear. Some of this is sponsored by companies (instrument makers, a medical device company, a museum), but much of it is curiosity research. - For us, the robot project complements one of our areas in which we study real musicians and how they play. We want to know, in some detail, why a real musician plays better and makes a better sound than a beginner. (Curiosity research, but with an obvious application in music teaching and sometimes instrument design.) - The robot is a tool for testing our understanding of the clarinet-player system. The current version is very primitive: it was put together in a hurry for the competition. But in the next year or so we shall use it to understand a range of questions: * Why does a clarinet reed squeak? How can you stop it? * What are the important parameters in a good sound? * How important are tongue position, soft palate, glottis? What are the best combinations? * How important is lip damping, and how does it depend on the reed? * What are the important parameters in fine pitch control? * What are the important parameters in expressive performance? * What is necessary to convey warmth? * What is necessary to follow a conductor? - To some of these, of course, we already have answers from our previous research. But we want to have more confidence in those answers. - So for the Music Acoustics Lab, this robot is a very useful tool. It was also a good project for two undergraduate students (Paul and Jean) in physics: a project that required a range of experimental and analytical techniques. The other groups in the robot team have different motivations. - For Mechanical Engineering, this robot was an interesting challenge. It was a good undergraduate student project for Kim: a range of questions to answer and difficulties to overcome. - It was also an interesting challenge for Mark, a Computer Engineering student Mark. In fact all of the students involved were highly motivated, worked well, learned a lot -- and had a good time. For university staff, this alone would justify the project. - For NICTA (a national research centre in ICT), the contest was a formal challenge. A good way of displaying expertise and applications in embedded systems, and a good way of inspiring students. (John Judge is from NICTA). - The team details and some more discussion is at http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/jw/clarinetrobot.html [unsw.edu.au] Music Acoustics.

Campaign for non-bleeding eyeballs (1)

Nazlfrag (1035012) | more than 6 years ago | (#23882693)

A colleague told me of this discussion and suggested that I give a brief explanation of the motivation for this project. I'm from the Music Acoustics Group at UNSW. We maintain a large web site [unsw.edu.au] for the benefit of musicians, students and interested others. It has more details on the robot. The introduction on our site is aimed at a good high school student, but if you go deep enough it leads to our technical research papers.

Most of the time, we study real musical instruments, real musicians, the voice and the ear. Some of this is sponsored by companies (instrument makers, a medical device company, a museum), but much of it is curiosity research.

For us, the robot project complements one of our areas in which we study real musicians and how they play. We want to know, in some detail, why a real musician plays better and makes a better sound than a beginner. (Curiosity research, but with an obvious application in music teaching and sometimes instrument design.)

The robot is a tool for testing our understanding of the clarinet-player system. The current version is very primitive: it was put together in a hurry for the competition. But in the next year or so we shall use it to understand a range of questions:
* Why does a clarinet reed squeak? How can you stop it?
* What are the important parameters in a good sound?
* How important are tongue position, soft palate, glottis? What are the best combinations?
* How important is lip damping, and how does it depend on the reed?
* What are the important parameters in fine pitch control?
* What are the important parameters in expressive performance?
* What is necessary to convey warmth?
* What is necessary to follow a conductor?

To some of these, of course, we already have answers from our previous research. But we want to have more confidence in those answers.

So for the Music Acoustics Lab, this robot is a very useful tool. It was also a good project for two undergraduate students (Paul and Jean) in physics: a project that required a range of experimental and analytical techniques. The other groups in the robot team have different motivations.

For Mechanical Engineering, this robot was an interesting challenge. It was a good undergraduate student project for Kim: a range of questions to answer and difficulties to overcome. - It was also an interesting challenge for Mark, a Computer Engineering student Mark. In fact all of the students involved were highly motivated, worked well, learned a lot -- and had a good time. For university staff, this alone would justify the project.

For NICTA (a national research centre in ICT), the contest was a formal challenge. A good way of displaying expertise and applications in embedded systems, and a good way of inspiring students. (John Judge is from NICTA).

The team details and some more discussion is at Music Acoustics. [unsw.edu.au]

Sure... (1)

Qhartb (1311541) | more than 6 years ago | (#23881553)

but can it play Crysis?

but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23882717)

who was the judge? Cray??

my favorite (1)

lordmundi (637779) | more than 6 years ago | (#23884359)

my favorite.... the robotic drummer: http://www.graffagnino.net/wwwpeart/ [graffagnino.net] well... i guess I am a little biased :)

How do you model music? (1)

OMSModel (1312213) | more than 6 years ago | (#23894825)

Since the present discussion includes issues about what is good/bad/possible/etc., this leads to the question of whether there is a way to *model* music - to shed light on issues like these, in a systematic way.

Our OMSModel project has been a very successful way to model music - individual works, and individual performances. OMS doesn't look at notes, rather it focuses on how music stimulates or affects a listener. It provides detailed analysis; it can provide numeric ratings (the lowest/highest rankings we have discovered so far are 3/680; the robotic clarinet performance is about a 30). It often provides very good "answers" to the big questions about music (e.g. "What distinguishes good music from bad music?"; "How can music be analyzed in a way that allows for variation in individual responses and preferences?"; "Does music convey meaning?", etc.).

OMS uses ideas from Marvin Minksy's "Society of Mind" (Music is modeled as organized multi-stimulation of a human's "musical agents"), and also some time-honored ideas from academic philosophy. To build out the OMS model (to come up with a good list of "musical agents"), we did in-depth analysis of some great musical works - starting with a couple of Beethoven symphonies and working out from there. Our analysis eventually included a broad range of music: Popular, traditional, world, jazz, classical, avant-garde, and more. We now have a good list of musical agents (somewhat over 100, and fairly stable). It turns out that Beethoven was able to provide over half of the agents; it may sound crazy, but LVB seems to have anticipated some of the ideas in "Society of Mind" (!!)

Detailed materials about OMS are are on www.OMSModel.com

Here are a few things that OMS says about the robotic clarinet performance: The performance rates at about a 30, which ranks it as better than Barney singing his song "I Love You" [18], and ranks it about equal with "It's a Small World" as experienced at Disneyland [31]. It is not up to the level of "The Chimpmunk Song" (Alvin and the Chipmunks, [43]). It is far short of "Baby Beluga" (Raffi, [100]), or a fun pop tune ("Rockin Robin" [120]). These numeric ratings are a rough estimate of the intensity and breadth of the stimulation of the music. Most mainstream pop music is in the range of 100 - 180. Anything 200 and higher is really intense and broad (e.g. the best performances by James Brown or by Miles Davis). 300 and up gets into the range of "mind-blowing" or "unforgettable". Over 300 can be life-changing!

A rating of 30 is a big accomplishment. A large amount of musical and technical analysis would be required to get to this level. To compare: If a child were to pick up a clarinet for the first time and try to play something, this would be about a 3. So, among other things, the Australia team has effectively simulated the result of a lot of clarinet lessons.

The effort to get from 30 up to 120 (= fairly good pop music, good performance) is roughly linear. I.e. if we were to assess the total effort to accomplish the robotic clarinet performance (including prior efforts by other researchers), then multiply by 4 to get the level of effort to get to fairly good pop music. (We haven't estimated the effort to get above 120, but my guess is that the effort starts to become steeply logarithmic at some point shortly after 120. So probably a long long way to get to the level of Richard Stoltzman or Benny Goodman.)
 

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