Robot musicians! You have read the title and must be thinking this is a joke! Robots and music? Something doesn’t add up.
In a world where technological advancements keep on rising, it’s not fair to just straight up negate this statement and move on.
From the beginning, music has been something that we humans have deeply related to. Music is an emotion and with every emotion, a genre was created. Think about it for a minute, rock and metal music was made to cater to aggression, blues and jazz is for the mellow hearted, and take pop music which exhibited style as well as some funkiness.
So, wouldn’t you believe it if we told you that Robot musicians are real? Just think what would happen if 3 robots formed a rock band…
Shimon – The Dancing Robot
Shimon is from the league of dancing robots at Georgia Tech. The robots there have gone through a series of phases from dancing along with music to hearing and improvising and now composing music! Wow! That’s an incredible leap forward.
Can robots be creative? There is no stable answer at the moment. If you ask a straight-up question, can Robot musicians exist, then the answer is yes! However, the question that should be asked is that can they do it independently? Of course not!
Robot musicians: Advances in Artificial Intelligence
The engineers who programmed Shimon to compose music had to play about 20,000 rock songs and 20,000 jazz songs. Not to forget the 50,000 isolated lyrical tracks. This was part of the process of deep learning. The amount of human tweaking required to make this happen was beyond anything.
Here is the interesting part, Shimon’s ability to make thematic connections letting it create music is an eye-opener. This goes to show the advances in artificial intelligence as well as in the deep learning sectors.
If you’re intrigued then you’re curious to listen to the music this robot produced! Robot musicians it is!
Ultimately, the results were positive. But that’s not the point here, robots don’t have any feeling or any of the 5 senses that make up a human being. Yes, most of the trance music the kids listen to these days is computer-generated garbage. Add a few layers, mix up the track, add some lapsed-out background beats, and there you go.
From a technical standpoint, all music is computer-generated. But it doesn’t have to be. Before the computer revolutionized the world, musical instruments were the only means of creating original music and it still is. However, software like Logic Pro or GarageBand have so much to offer that it defeats the purpose of owning an instrument. Can we call these robot musicians?
Originality Requires Inspiration
Did you say, robot musicians???
Real music that has heart and soul embedded in it needs inspiration. Think about it, most of the hit songs had a whole story behind them. In an interview, Mark Knopfler (frontman of Dire Straits) told about how he came up with the main lick and lyrics for his popular song “Money for nothing”. He overheard a delivery man in a New York departmental store complaining about his job while watching MTV. Most of the lyrics as well as the melody was derived from that scene.
The goal is to create something meaningful which the listeners can relate to. It’s not just about rotating the curve, bend some strings. There are numerous stories like Dire Straits which depicts the level of creativity and inspiration required to compose original music.
Can Robots be Creative?
While most people straight up debunk this question it is something crucial to consider. Robots are machines and they are as good as their algorithm designs. The stronger their programming the better their results will be.
Robots being creative can happen but it depends on where the advancement in artificial intelligence takes a turn.
As the graph depicts here, advancements in artificial intelligence are directly proportional to the creativity in robots that will be observed. Deep learning coupled with statistical programming and artificial intelligence, the first link of the chain will allow robots to become creative in a gradual way. In short, the birth of robot musicians!
Imagine a world where people are buying concert tickets to see robot musicians. The robots rocking out, singing in their computerized voices will surely be wondrous to see!
Robot musicians: The Conclusion
All this boils down to the humans vs robots debate! Robots are as good as their programming allows them to be and behind every robot’s success is a developer with a vision. As per the prediction, in the coming years, robots will be able to “feel” as well. It’s amazing to see the spike in artificial intelligence. How each day it’s leaping towards greatness. Can robots be creative in the coming years? Abso!
It could be said that robots might capture the trance genre or become future DJs in Tomorrowland but they cannot sing soulfully. Freddie Mercury the world-renowned frontman of the bank’s Queens used to touch 4 octaves while in high pitches. The main reason for his distinct voice. He had a significant gap in between his teeth causing misalignment which enabled him to reach 4 octaves. The point is there was no hindrance or stopping him from making the greatest hits.
That’s the difference! You need a team to design and functionalize a robot but still, at the end of the day, the credits will go to its developer, not the robot!