Articles / Tech and DIY

Robots Still Can't Play Theremin Better Than You... Yet

Yet another theremin-playing-robot video popped up on YouTube today.  Despite being much cuter than some previous attempts (and much less creepy), this one still doesn't quite make beautiful music. 

To be honest, I'm still fascinated by the possibilities of robots playing theremins.  Perhaps it's the contrast between the first electronic musical instrument and the cutting edge of cybertronic technology.  Or maybe it's the fact that this instrument is so darned hard to play that even a machine programmed with perfect pitch still can't sound as organic as it's very first virtuosa, Clara Rockmore. 

Some attempts have come close, but engineers seem to be focusing almost exclusively on pitch.  With pitch-detection algorithms and ultra-fast digital signal processing, that's the easy part.  When will we start to see robots that perform with proper phrasing and vibrato?  I hope some of you builders are reading this... It's nearly 2012 for goodness sake - bring on the robots!