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Robot Maestro Shakes up the Classical Music Scene in South Korea

By Michael Vincent on July 4, 2023

OMG, that conductor’s got nuts & bolts.

EveR 6, an android robot, has just debuted as an orchestra conductor in Seoul, South Korea. Call it an amazing step forward in technology or a chapter from a dystopian fantasy novel, the robot waved its baton at the National Orchestra with expert precision.

Where technology and culture meet

The robot was created by the Korean Institute of Industrial Technology and led a performance by the National Orchestra of Korea, marking a first in the country. This 1.8-metre-tall tech wizard, equipped with arms capable of imitating a human conductor’s movements, strutted its stuff in a sold-out performance at the National Theatre of Korea in Seoul.

Engineered with sophisticated programming, she’s able to interpret and conduct complex musical scores, respond to the orchestra’s tempo, and somehow make a soulful connection with the audience. Sounds surreal, right?

Digging Deeper: Curiosity was the driving force behind the creation of EveR 6. The Institute wanted to explore whether robots could replace conductors and to what extent they could contribute to creative fields like the arts. But don’t worry, no humans were replaced in the making of this performance. The concert, titled “Disproof”, was co-conducted by EveR 6 and Soo-yeol Choi, the artistic director of the Busan Philharmonic Orchestra. The finale saw a unique blend of artificial and human conductors leading the orchestra together.

The performance featured a special 12-minute piece, “Feel”, written by Il-hoon Son, specifically designed to leverage both the robot and human conductor’s strengths. EveR 6 was preprogrammed to conduct 30 cycles of beat patterns, while Choi led the ensemble through an improvisational score, reacting in real time to the music. However, the robot wasn’t able to improvise, and it can’t hear or use generative AI​​.

What’s next: Developers are considering incorporating data learning into EveR 6’s programming, which could allow orchestras to request specific tempo or beat patterns from it​​.

Why it matters: This robotic foray into the world of classical music highlights the potential for collaboration between humans and technology in creative fields. While EveR 6 could accurately execute the beat patterns, Choi insists that the human touch is irreplaceable when it comes to the artistic and musical aspects of conducting.

But this also raises questions. The technology behind EveR 6 is impressive, but let’s face it, folks, it’s no Karajan.

Michael Vincent
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