25 Sep
Introducing a Robotic Maestro Introducing a Robotic Maestro

Introducing a Robotic Maestro

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An old music story, likely apocrypha, goes like this: Legendary maestro Fritz Reiner was rehearsing a major American orchestra (either Pittsburgh or Chicago, both of whom Reiner served as music director), and the famously temperamental Hungarian, as was his custom, provided his musicians with baton movements so subtle that they would have better served a band of playing fleas.

One bass player, relegated with the rest of his section to the customary place for basses in the very back row, decided to make a point of Reiner's tiny baton cues by holding up a spyglass as Reiner conducted. Reiner, the story goes, fired the man on the spot.

So far, there's no telling whether YuMi, a two-armed robotic conductor, will display any such mercurial personality traits. But if early performances with YuMi on the podium are any indication, the mechanical creation just might give Reiner's infamous nuances a proverbial run for their money.

Writing at a blog for ABB, the company that developed YuMi, Italian-born conductor Andrea Columbini describes how he prepared the robot for his debut at the Teatro Verdi in Pisa, Italy, for the gala celebration of the First International Festival of Robotics.

The process happened in two stages: Columbini's movements were first recorded and refined before handing them off to the robot for execution. Then, the motions were synced to the music in ABB's RobotStudio software.

The result, according to Maestro Columbini: "I must say, the final outcome is incredible. The gestural nuances of a conductor have been fully reproduced at a level that was previously unthinkable to me. YuMi achieves a very high level of fluidity of gesture, with an incredible softness of touch and expressive nuancing."

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Read 1116 times Last modified on Monday, 25 September 2017 05:10
Jim Lillie

Jim began writing for newspapers and designing for publishing companies at a time when both industries were just beginning to make the switch from manual to digital platforms. Jim lives in Boulder, Colorado with his teenage son.

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