Skynet it is not, but this spanking new robotic installation by Wilfried Stoll as well as a team from an engineering firm Festo in Germany is more than capable of composing a melody without any external help (unlike the auto composing keyboard we saw earlier this morning that requires a kick start). How does the system work? It all boils down to simple mathematics, really. The entire system is capable of writing music after listening to a musician play a tune on a xylophone or MIDI keyboard, where it will then apply rules derived from mathematician John Conway’s Game of Life, where a computer will work on a reinterpretation of the melody, breaking it down into various parts for individual instruments to have a go. The processed signal will then be sent over to the robotic strings, and according to the team, “The individual acoustic robots are interlinked in such a way that they can listen to each other. This constantly gives rise to new variations, which differ from the original theme while retaining the essence of the composition.” This sounds almost creepy, but at least you know the worst that they can do is make really bad music, and we already have Justin Bieber doing that, so no worries here.
Each of the robotic instruments come with only a single string, where it is capable of mimicking the sound of two violins, a cello, a viola and a double bass. There is an electric actuator which moves up and down the string in order to produce the right pitch, similar in function to a human musician’s left hand. As for the bow, you will find a pneumatic cylinder getting the job done, moving a hammer to vibrate the string.