Gil Weinberg (Director, Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology; Associate Professor, School of Music; Adjunct Associate Professor, School of Interactive Computing; Georgia Institute of Technology)
Abstract. The Robotic Musicianship project aims to facilitate meaningful musical interactions between humans and machines, leading to novel musical experiences and outcomes. The project combines computational modelling of music perception, interaction, and improvisation, with the capacity to produce acoustic responses in physical and visual manners. The motivation for this work is based on the hypothesis that real-time collaboration between human and robotic players can capitalize on the combination of their unique strengths to produce new and compelling music. Our goal is to combine human qualities such musical expression and emotions with robotic traits such as powerful processing, the ability to perform sophisticated mathematical transformations, robust long-term memory, and the capacity to play accurately without practice. A similar musical interaction can be achieved with software applications that do not involve mechanical operations. However, software-based interactive music systems are hampered by their inanimate nature, which does not provide players and audiences with physical and visual cues that are essential for creating expressive musical interactions. Software based interactive music systems are also limited by the electronic reproduction and amplification of sound through speakers, which cannot fully capture the richness of acoustic sound. Unlike these systems, the anthropomorphic embodied musical robots we developed, named Haile and Shimon, are designed to create acoustically rich and social interactions with humans. The acoustic richness is achieved due to the complexities of real life systems, as opposed to digital audio nuances that require intricate design and that are limited by the fidelity and orientation of speakers. In order to create intuitive as well as inspiring social collaboration with humans, the robots are designed to analyze music based on computational models of human perception such as stability, similarity style, and tension, and to generate algorithmic responses that are unlikely to be played by humans, such as genetic algorithm, fractals and style morphing. The robots are designed to serve as a test-bed for novel forms of musical human-machine interactions, bringing perceptual aspects of computer music into the physical world both visually and acoustically. We believe that this approach can lead to new musical experiences, and to new music, which cannot be conceived by traditional means. See project website with video examples here.
Bio. Gil Weinberg is the Director of Music Technology at Georgia Institute of Technology, where he founded the graduate program in Music Technology and the Georgia Tech Research Center for Music Technology. Weinberg holds professorship positions in the School of Music and the School of Interactive Computing. In his work, Dr. Weinberg aims to expand musical expression, creativity, and learning through meaningful applications of technology. His research interests include robotic musicianship, new interfaces for musical expression, musical networks, machine and robotic musicianship, sonification, and music education. Weinberg’s music has been featured in festivals and concerts such as Ars Electronica, SIGGRAPH, ICMC, and NIME, and with orchestras such as Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, the National Irish Symphony Orchestra, and the Scottish BBC Symphony. He has published more than 50 peer-reviewed papers and his interactive musical installations have been presented in museums such as the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt Museum and Boston Children’s Museum. With his perceptual robotic musicians, Haile and Shimon, he has traveled world wide, featuring dozens of concerts and presentations in festivals and conferences such as SIGGRAPH, DLD, and the World Economic Forum in Davos. Based on his most recent inventions – a set of musical applications that allow novices to create music in expressive and intuitive manner – he is has established a startup company, ZOOZ Mobile. Weinberg received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Media Arts and Sciences from MIT, after co-founding and holding positions in music and media software industry.