Listen to the smokin’ licks played by this prize-winning robotic clarinetist. Wow, that thing is fast. No wonder it won first prize at the Artemis Orchestra Competition, honoring scientists who could best lash together computers, machines, and musical instruments. It’s impressive, especially the way the thing can almost handle the awkward break between octaves that challenges even the best human clarinet players.
But as you hear this robot blazing through the pyrotechnics of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebee, notice how insane it sounds. As a clarinetist, I can appreciate the spectacular technique, but this performance is to music as typing is to writing. Now that the mechanics of playing clarinet music have been mimicked, it’s time for researchers to inject some soul.