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RobotBox is a community for robot builders to show off their projects. Add yours today.
Troy Rogers, Scott Barton, and Steven Kemper, graduate students in music at the University of Virginia, have ambitious plans to build some of the world's most advanced robotic musical instruments, and they need your help.
The group has launched a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter.org, a creative project funding web site. Their project, MARIE: a virtuosic band of robots made by and for musicians, invites backers to "Help thwart the imminent robot vs. human wars by demonstrating how fun, cool, and sonically interesting it can be when humans and robots combine their powers for good!" The group hopes family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers alike will chip in as little as a few dollars each to make their dreams of creating a portable, modular robot ensemble a reality.
Expressive Machines Musical Instruments
Barton, Kemper, and Rogers formed Expressive Machines Musical Instruments (EMMI) together in 2007. Since then, the group has been inventing, building, and composing music for robotic musical instruments on a shoestring budget. EMMI has presented their instruments and music at numerous concerts, conferences, festivals, and events throughout North America.
Rogers recently returned from Ghent, Belgium where he spent 11 months as a Fulbright Research Fellow working with Godfried-Willem Raes, inventor and builder of the world's largest robot orchestra, the Logos Foundation Man and Machine (M&M) Ensemble.
The MARIE project
Michael Straus (saxophone) and Dana Jessen (bassoon) of EAR Duo (Electro-Acoustic Reed Duo) met and worked with Rogers in Ghent, and collaborated to create a musical work for EAR Duo and the M&M Robot Orchestra. After working together on creating music for the Logos M&M Robot Orchestra, everyone got a taste for more. EAR Duo got to work, setting up an East Coast tour from Virginia to New Hampshire, including lectures and performances at MIT, and a subsequent tour of the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. EMMI got to work designing a new ensemble of portable robots for the tours, which kick off in March.
The result from EMMI is MARIE (Monochord-Aerophone Robotic Instrument Ensemble). MARIE will comprise several plucked and bowed single string instruments and several clarinet-like wind instruments, all played robotically. With MARIE, EMMI is striving to do for robotic musical instruments what pioneers like Robert Moog and Donald Buchla did for synthesizers several decades ago--take the technology out of the research labs and put it into the hands of adventurous musicians seeking new modes of musical expression. Like the Moog synthesizer, the instruments that make up MARIE will fit into suitcases. They'll be rugged, portable, and packed with exciting capabilities for musicians to explore.
Why should I donate?
If you support homegrown innovation and believe in the American tradition of garage tinkerers inventing technologies that transform the world, this is a project after your own heart. In addition to the good feeling you'll get from supporting the project, there are a number of incentives available to backers, such as CD's, T-shirts, DVD's, signed posters, performances, and more.
How does it work?
Like every Kickstarter project, MARIE has a funding goal ($7000) and a time limit (35 days). At the deadline (1/3/2011), one of two possible outcomes will occur:
1. Funding Successful: The project will have met or surpassed its funding goal, all backers' credit cards will be instantly charged and funds will go directly to the Rogers and his collaborators, who will then be responsible for completing the project and delivering rewards as promised.
2. Funding Unsuccessful: The project has NOT met its funding goal, and all pledges are canceled. That's it.
What will the money fund?
All money raised will go directly toward materials for the prototype of MARIE (Monochord-Aerophone Robotic Instrument Ensemble).
Kickstarter project page: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/emmi/marie-a-virtuosic-band-of-robots-made-by-and-for-m
Kickstarter FAQ's: http://www.kickstarter.com/help/faq#SoThisIsnAbouInve
Expressive Machines: www.expressivemachines.org
EAR Duo: http://www.mstraus.net/earduo.html