Newly created robot musician interacts and improvises

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Newly created robot musician interacts and improvises

An Australian PhD researcher has created musical software that has the ability to listen to music and improvise musical rhythms and melodies to accompany it.

Dubbed ‘Jambot’, the software could provide a more flexible alternative to drum machines and the repetitive, karaoke-style backing tracks that are in use today.

Jambot is said to combine recent discoveries in audio music perception with newly developed algorithms to keep up with musicians as they play.

The software is in its prototype stage and recently has won $7500 in a Queensland University of Technology (QUT) competition to help its developer, Toby Gifford, commercialise the concept.

“Under the hood, I have created new algorithms which quickly identify what's going on in the music as it's being played,” explained Gifford, who is a researcher in QUT’s Faculty of Creative Industries.

“It keeps track of tempo [speed] changes as they occur during a performance. It also judges pitch and users will be able to choose the particular instruments they wish to jam [play] with,” he said.

Jambot is expected to be used by professional or aspiring musicians in place of inflexible computer-based backing tracks or looping pedals.

The software also could allow a live band to have a fuller sound when they can't have as many band members as they would like on stage, Gifford said.

“Jambot is a musical robot, but it's not made of metal and it doesn't blow smoke,” he said in a statement to the media.

“It is a piece of computer software that could play along to a soloist, providing a backing track, or improvising a conga drum solo over recorded music being played by a DJ, for example.”

Gifford is expecting to complete his PhD next year and will look into the commercialisation of Jambot after that.
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