Roots Are Making Music, and Humans Are Helping Them

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Robots Taking Over Music, With Humans by Their Side

This Friday marks the start of the fifth annual Atlanta Science Festival, kicking off with Rise Up, Robots, a variety show featuring an assortment of robotic performers.

One of those performers will be Shimon, a marimba-playing robot that uses machine learning to develop new and inventive compositions. Shimon was created by Gil Weinberg, professor and founding director of Georgia Tech’s Center for Music Technology.

Many at Tech have heard of Shimon and its ability to improvise jazz melodies. This Friday, though, the musical robot will tread uncharted territory, showcasing a new rock composition composed by Zach Kondak, a graduate student in music technology, who will also play drums and guitar. Joining Weinberg and Kondak will be Richard Savery, also a graduate student in music technology, on saxophone.

“In the past, we have trained Shimon using jazz, classical, and pop, but rock is very new for us,” said Weinberg. “This will be our first time going for a prog-rock piece with a strong mathematical structure.”


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