The Music of Robots: Music Automata from Pythagoras to Future

Friday, June 09, 2017
11:00 AM to 12:00 PM
GDC 5.304
Free and open to the public

Mankind has always been fascinated by mechanical simulations of human activity. A characteristic of Western thought is to understand our minds, bodies, and our world in mechanistic terms. Music especially has been viewed as a mathematical and mechanical process. As a result, musicians, scientists, and engineers have devised all sorts of mechanisms and systems for composing and performing music. I will review some of these activities and their evolution over the last 2500 years, ending with some work on music composition, music performance, and how humanoid robot performers change the way we hear music.


Roger B. Dannenberg

Professor of Computer Science, Art, and Music
Carnegie Mellon University

Roger B. Dannenberg is Professor of Computer Science, Art, and Music at Carnegie Mellon University. Dannenberg is well known for his computer music research, especially in real-time interactive systems. His pioneering work in computer accompaniment led to three patents and the SmartMusic system now used by tens of thousands of music students. He is the co-creator of Audacity, a free audio editor with over 250 million downloads. Other innovations include the application of machine learning to music style classification and the automation of music structure analysis. As a trumpet player, he has performed in concert halls ranging from the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem to the Espace de Projection in Paris, and he is active in performing jazz, classical, and new works. As a composer, he writes for interactive electronics, and his opera co-composed with Jorge Sastre, La Mare dels Peixos (The Mother of the Fishes), was completed and performed in 2016.