Experiment in Augmentation 2

for human improviser, PAM (robotic string instrument), Cyther (human-playable robotic zither) and robotic percussion


Experiment in Augmentation 2 features a human-robot improvisation consisting of a human improviser and the musical robots PAM, percussive aerophone, and percussion built by WPI’s Music, Perception and Robotics Lab and EMMI. The robots respond to human-produced cues with algorithmically-generated statements. Their performative idiosyncrasies transform idealized pitch, rhythm and velocity information. The human performer nudges the machines in particular directions and pulls them back if they have become too adventurous. He indicates which gestures should persist, which should be recalled and which ones should be developed further by the machines. The human is thus both composer and conductor as the compositional process unfolds in performance. Enabling human control of higher-level musical elements (i.e. meter, rhythmic subdivisions, pitch set) and machine control of lower-level ones (e.g. pitch, temporal position) allows the performer’s attention to shift and roam, and thus highlights a way in which human expressive abilities can be augmented via physical computing technologies.