From Stockholm, Sweden, comes composer Fredrik Gran. In addition to exploring new performance techniques, he is intrigued by the musical possibilities of mechanical processes. He studied composition at the Stockholm Academy of Music and at McGill University in Montreal. His doctoral work is linked to the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Music Media and Technology.

Through the use of mechanical/robotic interactive units, amplified instruments and objects, computer-assisted transcription of his own electroacoustic music, and electronic models created expressly for the world of acoustic instruments, his music and research combine acoustic and electroacoustic sound ideas. His compositions include symphonic, chamber, vocal, electroacoustic, live electronic, dance, digital and visual arts projects.

Swedish composer Fredrik Gran has created a robot capable of playing two musical instruments simultaneously. The piece, called “Cello Concerto No. 1,” places a non-human entity consisting of two industrial robotic arms at the interface between the player and the instrument. The Swedish Arts Council and KUKA Robotics are sponsoring the creative project, commissioned by the modern music group KammarensembleN.

This dexterous robot can play two bowed instruments, such as the cello and double bass, at the same time. The mechanical creation acts like a person, handling the frets with one arm and tensioning the bow on the strings with the other. Before playing, it also tunes, tensions the bow and can even play at the same time as a person.

When they play the cello, the arms of these industrial robots are surprisingly convincing.We perceive these robots as strong and reliable industrial machines, but essentially rigid and dangerous, making them a disconcerting spectacle.
Composer Fredik Gran experiments with the delicacy of these robots.

The robot cellist consists of two Kuka robotic arms and shows the development of the robots’ unique skill and playing style. They can be trusted to carefully handle the delicate wooden cello they hold and create human-sounding music.

This is not the first time a cello has been placed in front of a robotic arm; this robot plays a composition by Hildur Gudinadottir.
Watching how robots attempt to play music raises a crucial question.

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