Meet Shimon, a four-armed, marimba-playing robot with a love of classical and jazz music. Robots playing musical instruments is nothing new, but Shimon is beginning to compose its own melodies and improvise along with human musicians. With a database of 5,000 complete songs and two million motifs and riffs, Shimon might soon be the feature musician at a jazz club near you.
According to Juquai McDuffie for Popular Mechanics: "Mason Bretan, a Ph.D. student at Georgia Tech, perfected Shimon's musical abilities after seven years, enabling him to comprehend music played by humans and extemporize over the pre-composed chord progressions.
'An artist has a bigger idea of what he or she is trying to achieve within the next few measures or later in the piece,' Bretan says in an interview. 'Shimon is now coming up with higher-level musical semantics. Rather than thinking note by note, it has a larger idea of what it wants to play as a whole.'
As long as researchers continue to feed Shimon different source material, the music-creating robot will produce a different sequence that can't be predicted by researchers. And the robot definitely has a style. A musician himself, Bretan says Shimon is a fusion of jazz and classical."