Squarepusher Joins Forces With Robots For Upcoming EP, ‘Music For Robots’.
Electronic experimental musician Squarepusher will collaborate with a robotic band on his next EP ‘Music for Robots’.
The band named ‘Z machines’ is the result of a Japanese challenge for roboticists which launched in 2013 to create a music-performing system with advanced musical capabilities. After being invited to compose music for the project, Squarepusher released the poignant ‘Sad Robot Goes Funny’ a track composed by himself and performed in full by the ‘Z machines’. The track features 3 robots which function like animatronic MIDIs and in the video below, a guitarist with 78 fingers, a drummer with 22 arms and a mechanical keyboard player all perform Squarepusher‘s composition.
Squarepusher talked about his involvement with the project:
“Each of the robotic devices involved in the performance of this music has its own specification which permits certain possibilities and excludes others - the robot guitar player for example can play much faster than a human ever could, but there is no amplitude control. In the same way that you do when you write music for a human performer, these attributes have to be borne in mind - and a particular range of musical possibilities corresponds to those attributes. Consequently, in this project familiar instruments are used in ways which till now have been impossible.”
‘Sad Robot Goes Funny’ gives us a taster of what we may hear on the forthcoming EP ‘Music For Robots’ which features 5 tracks performed in full by the Z Machines.
Squarepusher talked about his hopes for the EP:
“In this project the main question I’ve tried to answer is ‘can these robots play music that is emotionally engaging?.”
“I have long admired the player piano works of Conlon Nancarrow and Gyorgy Ligeti. Part of the appeal of that music has to do with hearing a familiar instrument being ‘played’ in an unfamiliar fashion. For me there has always been something fascinating about the encounter of the unfamiliar with the familiar. I have long been an advocate of taking fresh approaches to existing instrumentation as much as I am an advocate of trying to develop new instruments, and being able to rethink the way in which, for example, an electric guitar can be used is very exciting”.