An unusual orchestra will be performing in Manchester this summer – it’s made up of a troupe of robot players complete with a robot conductor.
The robot orchestra will consist of a group of ‘electronic brains’ which create music by playing real instruments as well as using old and obsolete technology such as floppy disk drives and old desk fans which will make the sounds themselves. All of the performers will be brought together and conducted by a robot designed by Siemens.
The project, arranged as part of Manchester’s time as European City of Science, is seeking volunteers to get involved in a variety of ways. From donating unused technology, to building the robots and writing codes, to sharing musical expertise, there is a wide range of ways for people to get involved.
But what will the robots be playing? Could it be heavy metal? The Hallé Orchestra has composed a special piece while other independent composers are also writing music. The organisers are also aiming to bring a group of Manchester-based artists on board.
To ensure the ensemble is ready for its debut performance at the Euroscience Open Forum in July, rehearsals are currently underway to ensure that all of the robots perform as a cohesive unit instead of playing randomly.
“I want to show how everyone can discover the secret engineer inside themselves – and build an amazing machine from their imagination,” said Professor Danielle George, who devised the project. “A new musical engineering revolution has begun. I want to showcase the ingenuity, creativity and revolutionary spirit of the people of Manchester, and to explore how a city might creatively re-engineer and spread environmental and creative practices through performance.”
Danielle George shares her vision for The Robot Orchestra…