Robot musicians are taking over Ideas Fest

Jun 29, 2017

Shimon the marimba playing robot plays live with humans.
Credit Courtesy of Gil Weinberg

A marimba playing robot will perform Friday as part of the Aspen Ideas Festival.

Shimon the marimba playing robot has four arms with eight strikers, two on each arm. It also has a head, making it possible for the robot to interact and improvise onstage instantaneously.

Gil Weinberg is the founding director of Georgia Tech’s Center for Music Technology. He first started this project as a listening mechanism. Now Shimon can compose original music spanning genres using artificial intelligence and machine learning.


“The idea is if we can model human creativity, then we can start modeling things that are beyond our capabilities,” said Mason Bretan, a recent PhD graduate from the Georgia Tech program who worked closely with Weinberg to develop artificial intelligence machine learning.


Breton said the project is a case study on how humans function and generate music. The end goal being to expand human musical culture and capability. The presentation and performance will take place in Doerr-Hosier’s McNulty Room on the Aspen Institute Campus Friday at 8:30 p.m.