Robotic Quintet Composes And Plays Its Own Music

This robot created by Festo listens to a piece of music breaking each note down into pitch, duration, and intensity. It then plugs that information into various algorithms derived from Conway’s “Game of Life” and creates a new composition while listening to one another producing an improv performance. Conway’s “Game of Life” put simply is a 2d environment where cells(pixels) react to neighboring cells based on rules.

They are:
Any live cell with fewer than two live neighbours dies, as if caused by under-population.
Any live cell with two or three live neighbours lives on to the next generation.
Any live cell with more than three live neighbours dies, as if by overcrowding.
Any dead cell with exactly three live neighbours becomes a live cell, as if by reproduction.

This algorithm tends to evolve as time passes and created in an attempt to simulate life.

This robot essentially mimics how composers take a musical motif and evolve it over the life of the piece. The robot sets the sensory information from the music played to it as the initial condition or motif and lets the algorithm change it. Since western music is highly mathematical, robots are naturals. I would say this robot has more characteristics human/animal behavior in Wiener’s example of the music box and the kitten. Unlike the music box this robot performs in accordance with a pattern yet this pattern is directly effected by its past.

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