Musical Robots

Something less academic, but more concerning robotics becoming more mainstream.

Here is an overview of robots playing musical instruments.

We start of with a very impressive rock/metal cover band Compressor Head.

The sound in the next clip isn’t superb, but it really shows an impressive overview of the band.

Stickboy, the pneumatic drummer, was created in 2007. It was not until 2009 when Fingers -the guitar player- was created that they actually formed a band to do performances. Last year Bones was added to the band with the bass guitar. Bones has actual human-like fingers to play the bass, while Fingers has 78 pneumatic actuators to make music. What is particularly interesting is the very human-like motions all the musicians make (well, the bass player doesn’t do a lot, but they often don’t do a lot in real life either). They now tour around the world.

Next up, we have a trumpet playing robot made by Toyota.

The trumpet has a special mouth piece for the robot, and they developed lips for this robot as trumpet playing is based on utilisation of the lips.

The following duo is a research project from the Waseda Universite in Japan. This “duo” is playing the flute and the saxophone.

While an automated saxophone me be nice, the flute deserves some attention. Playing the flute is dependent on a very precise placement of the lips on the flute. They used lips based on the lips of the previous (trumpet playing) robot. The flutist also has lungs, a vocal cord and a tongue, to simulate human behaviour as close as possible.

Toyata is doing a lot of work in robotics. An other of their musical creations is this violin playing robot.

It doesn’t only have the fine dexterity needed to play the violin, but it is also self-balancing (It will prevent itself from falling over if it is pushed) and can jump.

Those off course are all robots playing predetermined tunes. The next robot on the list however improvises to play along with an other musician.

This robot -called Shimon- also has some organic like behaviour in the motion of its head. The head seems to improve the interaction between the musician an the robot according to the people working with the robot.

To close off. Something a little bit different.

The next robot is not meant to play a real instrument. Instead, based on “Pipedream” a 3D animation by Animusic, Intel made something as seen in the animation but in real life as a techdemo.

The technique isn’t completely the same as in the 3D animation because the music is produced by a synthesizer linked to pressure plates instead of real instruments. But is impressive non the less.


  1. 31/01/2013 at 10:25

    It is impressive to see what robots can do. Do you think we will depend on robots to do all sort of things for us in the future?

  2. 31/01/2013 at 15:40

    Indeed, I have to join Sven at that point because it is almost unbelievable! I’m looking forward to go fishing with my new best friend.

  3. michaeltijskens
    02/02/2013 at 00:30

    That would be awesome! Maybe they can also be used in warfare?

  4. 02/02/2013 at 14:37

    I’m fairly certain that robots will become more common in everyday life. Like the vacuum robots that are getting affordable.
    I’m not sure what you understand with dependent. I imagine we will be at least as dependent on robots as we are on things like our computers and mobile phones.

    If we all will be having our own C3PO, I’m not sure. But it could be. Maybe I’ll look some “on the road to movie robots” up for a later post.

    Warfare is actually a big sponsor of robotics. For your side, it actually takes away possible casualties, which is always nice. On the other hand, the possibility of casualties is a great motivator not to start a war. So if you take that away, the step of starting a war is much lower.

    Robotics has a lot of humanitarian applications, but the same technology could as easily be used for combat.
    That was one of my questions on an earlier post. Would it be moral to accept a grant from the army for something they clearly will use for killing? On one side you are condoning their actions by accepting the grant. On the other side if you do research for an institution, your research will accessible by the army anyway and your research maybe can also be used for humanitarian applications. I’m still not sure what to think about it.

  5. visualrecognition
    05/02/2013 at 15:00

    It’s impressive for me that robots can play music as me. As a musician, I think that music is beautiful because you will make song a little different according to your mood when you play it by yourself. For robots, they’re all programmed. Thus, they’re just working as a dancing mp3 player.

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