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A Survey of Robotic Musicianship


Shimon, the marimba-playing robot

The term 'robotic musicianship' may seem like an oxymoron. The first word often carries negative connotations in terms of artistic performance and can be used to describe a lack of expressivity and artistic sensitivity. The second word is used to describe varying levels of an individual's ability to apply musical concepts in order to convey artistry and sensitivity beyond the facets of merely reading notes from a score.

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To understand the meaning of robotic musicianship, it is important to detail the two primary research areas of which it constitutes: Musical mechatronics, which is the study and construction of physical systems that generate sound through mechanical means;15 and machine musicianship, which focuses on developing algorithms and cognitive models representative of various aspects of music perception, composition, performance, and theory.31 Robotic musicianship refers to the intersection of these areas. Researchers within this space design music-playing robots with the necessary underlying musical intelligence to support both expressive solo performance and interaction with human musicians.37


 

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