All I Want For Xmas Is An Anthropomorphic Humanoid Guitar God Robot
December 1, 2004 10:31 PM   Subscribe

"In designing GuitarBot, our goal was to create an electrified slide guitar that was versatile, responsive, capable of fast and slow playing, easy to control, with high-quality sound, modular and portable. We also wanted to extend, not simply duplicate, the capabilities of a human guitarist."

Don't miss the video [16 meg Quicktime]. Brought to you by the League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots.
posted by quonsar (34 comments total)
see also The Guitarist Is Metal [NYT]. via Daily Jive.
posted by quonsar at 10:39 PM on December 1, 2004

So cool.

But why no robofrets?
posted by Pretty_Generic at 10:43 PM on December 1, 2004

posted by Krrrlson at 10:45 PM on December 1, 2004

Robots don't need frets, man.
posted by neckro23 at 11:02 PM on December 1, 2004

robots don't fret none.
posted by quonsar at 11:09 PM on December 1, 2004

This is my first post, that was the coolest thing ever.
posted by phyle at 11:14 PM on December 1, 2004

Holy shit. This is beyond good/cool. Thanks Q!
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:14 PM on December 1, 2004

Very cool, though given the equipment I find the composition slightly disappointing. There is such a thing as overcrowding a piece of music.
posted by fvw at 11:16 PM on December 1, 2004

/me waves at phyle
posted by quonsar at 11:19 PM on December 1, 2004

Unanimous props so far, huh?

I hated the composition, and the execution sounded unlistenably out-of-tune to me. Robots may not need frets, but their creators oughta have an ear.
posted by DuoJet at 11:51 PM on December 1, 2004

Guitarbot premiered here at RPI in our crazy electronic arts program. They tend to put on experimental media programs that noone understands or goes to, including me. If you're in the Albany area, check out iEAR for upcoming events. Our college paper had an article on the GuitarBot, but it appears to be an exact copy of the website, so someone's plagiarizing :)
posted by JZig at 11:59 PM on December 1, 2004

That is fantastic! Quite a unique sound really. Wow. Yeah. Tres cool!
posted by sycophant at 12:20 AM on December 2, 2004

As a fan of both robots and slide guitars, this was awesome.
posted by 235w103 at 1:31 AM on December 2, 2004

Let's see it play acoustic.
posted by singletrack at 2:10 AM on December 2, 2004

I would like to see it rock, if possible.
posted by meh at 3:40 AM on December 2, 2004

GuitarBot played Julliard, with backup by a player piano, on Monday's the article on it in their online mag, from the musical rather than the tech angle.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 4:27 AM on December 2, 2004

i hadn't seen this guitarbot before, but i HAVE seen GTRBOT666 and DRMBOT 0110 & the rest of the c!br crew. it's a pretty safe bet they'll never play julliard, but you can always email the booking agent to bring 'em to your town.
[i can well imagine these links have been posted before, but it seemed pertinent to the 'bot' theme.]
posted by msconduct at 5:52 AM on December 2, 2004

I was at the Juilliard concert Monday night. The GuitarBot comes off a bit goofily to my ears. The pitch sliding between notes was too prominent for my taste, and the articulation was too consistent (you could almost say "mechanical"). Of course, that's from the perpective of comparison to a human guitarist, and the point I think they're going for here is to think of it as a new instrument, not a replication of human guitar playing. As GuitarBot develops more subtle and varied control possibilities, I bet it will be a lot more satisfying as a musical instrument.

The rest of the concert was pretty cool, too, though a bit of an aural assault. Amazing how aggressive an organ can be when you don't have to worry about human limits...
posted by gsalad at 5:54 AM on December 2, 2004

now if we can just keep it sober before gigs...
posted by NationalKato at 6:24 AM on December 2, 2004

Let's see it play acoustic.

Let's see it play a guitar.
posted by Cryptical Envelopment at 6:34 AM on December 2, 2004

I haven't been able to listen yet-- I work in a library-- and I think this idea is pretty cool, but don't some of these people come off as a bit pretentious? I'd read the NYT article, and especially the composer seems fairly haughty: "Machines (if properly constructed and properly written for) are capable of niceties of emotional expression impossible to a human performer." Yeesh. Did anybody say this stuff when they invented sequencers? And, after all, isn't this just a really cool player for a sequencer? People have been doing this stuff for years; hell, that's what inventing instruments is about.

That said, the inventors seem pretty cool, and have a nice sense of humor about their work. I guess you have to associate with a little pretentiousness if you want to introduce electronica to Julliard. Also, this somehow made perfect sense to me when I saw the picture because of those things we used to have in music class, the long boards with three metal strings each whereon you could adjust the single fret and experiment with length/tone. What were those things called? I can't remember...
posted by koeselitz at 6:39 AM on December 2, 2004

If only it could play chords.
posted by RemusLupin at 8:16 AM on December 2, 2004

As the Juilliard article points out, this is nothing especially new. You should really check out Conlon Nancarrow if you want to see what machines can REALLY do with music.

As a composer I'm kinda jealous of the publicity this guy is getting for what's essentially a good gimmick. Musically, the GuitarBot kinda sucks, at least as far as I could tell from that movie. There was like, no dynamics... every attack was the same, as someone else pointed out. And the rhythm seemed off too... there was an audible lag whenever the picks had to move a long distance along the string. These are things that even a mediocre human guitarist can do better.

Also, Percy Grainger is full of shit.
posted by speicus at 8:26 AM on December 2, 2004

Hmm, well. Here's the vaunted piece by the Juilliard composer. I'm not so keen on the music, but it shows off the abilities of the 'Bot a bit more.

Dammit. I need a good gimmick.
posted by speicus at 8:37 AM on December 2, 2004

This Trent Reznor, he is a robot?

Cool post.
posted by theFlyingSquirrel at 8:53 AM on December 2, 2004

"Machines (if properly constructed and properly written for) are capable of niceties of emotional expression impossible to a human performer." Yeesh. Did anybody say this stuff when they invented sequencers?

Makes perfect sense to me. The human body is a mechanical device, and it seems reasonable to imagine that we could invent a new mechanical device capable of greater musical precision and accuracy than the human body.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:18 AM on December 2, 2004

Of course. But that only amounts to greater control over the outcome when playing. To say that "machines... are capable of niceties of emotional expression" is to overstate the case, at least so far. When they invent a robot that composes, then maybe it'll be expressing emotion. However, nobody in this case even pretends that it's not the human composer's emotions that are being expressed.

To state it in such a way seems to be a fairly lame attempt to stir up the "human performers will be replaced by computers!" controversies in order to gain publicity. Someone would have to have a really gigantic opinion of themselves to believe that they were on the forefront of making machines acceptable in music at this point.
posted by koeselitz at 11:42 AM on December 2, 2004

Now I remember-- that thing reminds me of a monochord.
posted by koeselitz at 11:52 AM on December 2, 2004

I thought the beginning sounded a lot like something t00L would do, but after about 2 minutes I couldn't take any more.

As a real guitarist what I imagined when I read Guitarbot was something that could play a real guitar.

It reminds me of a video that went around a while back with ping pong ball cannons were shooting onto a series of drums and all the other instruments were made by machines striking keys and hammering out the notes. Anybody remember what it was? I don't even know where to start searching for that.
posted by daHIFI at 12:07 PM on December 2, 2004

Let's see it play acoustic.

Guitarbot? Not a chance.


This? You betcha.

Don't miss the video or the MP3 page, or my personal favorite....
posted by The White Hat at 1:27 PM on December 2, 2004

[This is good]

Also, I like the composition.
posted by klausness at 2:30 PM on December 2, 2004

The White Hat, that thing rocks!
posted by quonsar at 8:26 PM on December 2, 2004

posted by sklero at 9:33 AM on December 3, 2004

The sculpture in the EMP (Experience Music Project, just a stone's throw from the Space Needle) is also a Guitar Bot. It actually uses a system similar to that of the original post, though the guitar strings are spread out. I can't find any links for it, but it's a pretty cool scuplture, created out of hundreds of guitars.

I also remember seeing recently on New Yankee Workshop a player piano that had a rotor on the top that rotated four violins around a bow. A self-duet, similar to White Hat's Frankenstrument.
posted by hoborg at 6:13 PM on December 4, 2004

« Older I could probably fake fluency in Bengali   |   the unbearable lightness of soufflé Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments