A robot maestro leads an orchestra at the Sharjah Performing Arts Academy in Sharjah, UAE. Photo: REUTERS/Satish Kumar
entertainment

Robot conducts human orchestra

12 Comments
By Tarek Fahmy

The conductor on the podium has no baton, no tailcoat and no musical score, but Android Alter 3 is kicking up a storm as it guides a symphony orchestra's players through their paces.

The robot has a humanoid face, hands and lower arms, which gesticulate with what could pass for passion as it bounces up and down and rotates during the live performance of Keiichiro Shibuya's opera "Scary Beauty" in the Emirate of Sharjah.

For Shibuya, a composer from Japan, the role of robots in our everyday lives may well be increasing, but it is up to us to decide how artificial intelligence might add to the human experience, and humans and androids create art together.

"This work is a metaphor of the relations between humans and technology. Sometimes the android will get crazy, human orchestras have to follow. But sometimes humans can cooperate very comfortably," he said.

Shibuya wrote the music, but the android controls the tempo and volume of the live show, and even sings at times.

"The premise is that the android itself is moving according to its own will," said its technician Kotobuki Hikaru.

The work's lyrics are based on literary texts from American"Beat Generation" writer William Burroughs and French author Michael Houellebecq.

"The robots and AI that exist now are not at all complete. The focus of my interest... is what happens when this incomplete technology comes together with art," said Shibuya.

From those who witnessed it, the performance drew a mixed response.

"I think this is a very exciting idea...we came to see how it looks like and how much is ...possible," said Anna Kovacevic.

A second audience member, who gave his name only as Billum, said after the show: "You know, a human conductor is so much better."

Although he is interested in AI and anticipates big breakthroughs, he concluded on the project: "the human touch is lost."

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

12 Comments
Login to comment

Chilling.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

A robot violinist or other player would be more impressive.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Never heard why a conductor was actually needed? They appear to be a Harry Potter wana be on Meth. The musicians are looking at their music sheets, think like a clown the audience has a focus. Now their focus is on the robot who could well malfunction and kill the entire string section with a wand. Orchestras music might evolve into a blood sport Specticals.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Would sentient ‘robot’ rely on humans’ repertoire?

Just toy-like Extension of people.

Ai conducting music composed by AI - now that I would inspire curiosity. Or fear.

what do machines need music for anyway?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Absolutely awesome! I may be biased as I love all things AI, robotics and animatronics, but I hope this tech continues for music. I love that the android conductor sings at times too, really cool!!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Great but a human conductor/conductress has the human emotions which can be added to the playing. The robot can't do that, just follow its program.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Great. Now were gonna pit conductors out of work.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Should be even easier to replace the musicians with robots too. And while we are at it, why not the audience too?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

ZaphodToday  12:01 am JST Should be even easier to replace the musicians with robots too.

Where have you been for the last fifty years? Bands have been using pre-recorded music through laptops and certain electronic keyboards for ages. The Who did this clear back in the '70s in order to play "Baba O'Riley" live. All the more important now because the music business model, which used to pay most artists a living wage, is broken. DIY "home" recording is a matter of necessity since "record' companies and streaming services pay so poorly. "What is this 'advance' you speak of to pay for studio time and writing time for the next 'album'"?

East India Youth does this sublimely. A bit more sophisticated than your historic One Man Band.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wL_JE_ksh8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNEnaH-UazU

1 ( +1 / -0 )

An interesting experiment. I don't think robots will replace human musicians, just yet. They work just fine in tandem with artists already. Think of the marvelous Kraftwerk, for example.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Should be even easier to replace the musicians with robots too. And while we are at it, why not the audience too?

Douglas Adams was passionate about new technology. I'm sure he'd have loved this.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Fighto!Feb. 6 06:33 pm JSTAbsolutely awesome! I may be biased as I love all things AI, robotics and animatronics, but I hope this tech continues for music. I love that the android conductor sings at times too, really cool!!

It's like what zichi said. A robot can't do anything unless it's programmed to do so. In this case you also need a real human conductor to assist in the programming and THAT takes musical talent for the human conductor. And that goes for singing as well.

A few years ago I saw a demonstration of droids 'playing' a Motorhead song! But they had to programmed to do so first, and that means somebody had to know some Motorhead music.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites