This robotic clarinet player created by Australian research group took first prize at the Artemis Orchestra Competition, a contest in which engineers were challenged to create embedded systems capable of playing human instruments. It handles Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Flight of the Bumble Bee with the breathless disgorgement of rapid-fire notes you’d expect from an ADHD clarinet protegee dizzy on lemonade: it just spews the notes out without any soul or force. Clarinetists do not have to worry about their cybernetic peers just yet. Still, what’s really impressive about the automated clarinet is the articulated mouthpiece capable of generating the plosive breath necessary to play the instrument, as well as the intricate fingering of the valves.
Now that sophisticated chess computers can beat most grandmasters, I wonder if music will be the next venue for the gladiatorial match between human and robotic supremacy.